Will the “Korean Monster,” Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, enjoy the fall in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform?
Toronto will host the Minnesota Twins on Thursday in the first round of the 2023 Major League Baseball postseason wild card. The Jays narrowly punch their ticket to fall baseball and have a chance to make up for last year’s Division Series loss.
For Ryu, it will be the first time in three years since the 2020 wild card game. But it’s not a done deal yet. That is, if Ryu makes Toronto’s postseason roster.
MLB.com projected Toronto’s fall roster. On the mound, Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, Jose Berrios, and Yusei Kikuchi will be in the starting rotation. In the bullpen, I looked at Jordan Romano, Jordan Hicks, Eric Swanson, Tim Mayza, Yimi Garcia, Chad Green, Genesis Cabrera, and Trevor Richards. I projected 12 pitchers.
Gaussman is the favorite to start Game 1. According to MLB.com, “Gaussman is Toronto’s unquestioned ace. He’s having an elite season, with a 3.16 ERA and 237 strikeouts in 185 innings pitched.” Gausman has won 12 regular-season games in back-to-back seasons in a Toronto uniform since 2022.
When Hyun-jin Ryu arrived in Toronto as a free agent from the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was touted as a “No. 1 starter” and “ace. But those labels have since been taken over by Gausman.
Still, Ryu has shown that he is healthy after returning from elbow surgery this year. In his last start of the season, he was pulled early after giving up two runs in three innings against Tampa Bay on April 1, but his fastball was up to 90.8 mph (143.9 km/h), up from 89.4 mph (146.9 km/h) in his last start against the Rays on April 24.
His velocity isn’t a problem either. Still, as MLB.com put it, “it’s hard to imagine Ryu as a fifth starter.” After Gausman, Toronto’s starting rotation is expected to include Chris Bassett, Jose Berrios, and Yusei Kikuchi.
There is no chance that Hyun-jin Ryu will be utilized in the bullpen. The bullpen includes Jordan Romano, Jordan Hicks, Eric Swanson, Tim Mayza, Yimi Garcia, Chad Green, Genesis Cabrera, and Trevor Richards.
MLB.com took a look at Toronto’s projected starting lineup for Game 1 of the Wild Card Game, and also looked at the bullpen.
George Springer (right field), Brandon Belt (designated hitter), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (first base), Bo Bissett (shortstop), Cavan Biggio (second base), Alejandro Kirk (catcher), Kevin Kiermaier (center field), Matt Chapman (third base), and Dolton Bashaw (left field).
MLB.com went on to say, “Toronto has the best (bullpen) in Romano and Hicks. “In front of them, Swanson is an excellent choice,” he wrote, “Mayza has been one of the best lefties this season, and Green is back to his perfect form. Garcia could be a strong option in the middle.”
Ryu was not mentioned. Ryu is 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 starts since his return. He’s healthy and his velocity is up. His stuff is still good. He also has big league postseason experience. In nine games, Hyun-jin Ryu has a 3-3 record with a 4.54 ERA.
Ryu’s four-year, $80 million contract with Toronto ends after this season. It will be interesting to see if he hits the free agent market again and wears a different uniform next season. It remains to be seen if Ryu will be able to finish the season with Toronto in fall baseball.