Is extreme protection possible pre-work for renewal? Hyunjin Ryu 5th Inning Mystery

The Toronto Blue Jays won 5 to 1 in the game against the Kansas City Royals held at the Rogers Center on the 10th (Korean time), further increasing their chances of advancing to the playoffs.

By winning the first two games of this three-game series against Kansas City, Toronto, which has recently achieved four consecutive winning series, recorded 79 wins and 63 losses, solidifying its position in third place as a wild card in the American League (AL). Three wild cards are given in each league. Toronto is firmly holding the last ticket to the playoffs.

As expected, Ace’s good pitching stood out. Toronto starter Kevin Gausman recorded 11 wins (8 losses) on the season, striking out 10 batters in 8 innings and blocking the Kansas City batting line with 2 hits and 1 run. Since he ranks 5th in ERA and 1st in strikeouts (217) in the AL, he seems to have a good chance of winning the Cy Young Award vote.

Gausman threw 105 pitches. This is the 15th game with more than 100 pitches out of 28 appearances this season. Gausman is the No. 1 starter in the playoffs. Given that the first game of the best-of-three wild card series is held immediately after the regular season, Toronto can adjust Gausman’s pitching schedule at the end of the season or cancel his last pitching if the wild card third place is not in danger.안전놀이터

If the current rotation is maintained, Gausman will appear against the Tampa Bay Rays on October 2, the final game of the regular season. This means that he can immediately prepare for Game 1 of the Wild Card Series without playing in this game. If one wild card cannot be confirmed by October 1st, Toronto will have no choice but to insert Gausman into the game on the 2nd. However, the probability is significantly lower than in the opposite case. As of today, FanGraphs presented Toronto’s probability of advancing to the playoffs as 77.7%.

It is natural to protect the team’s ace in preparation for the playoffs at the end of the season.

However, Toronto is currently extremely protective of another starting pitcher, Ryu Hyun-jin. Since returning on August 2nd, he pitched 5 innings in 6 out of 7 games until the game against the Oakland Athletics on the 7th. The remaining game was against the Cleveland Guardians on August 8, and he had to leave the mound after going no-hitter until the 4th inning when he was hit in the knee by a hard hit and suffered a bruise. If that hadn’t happened, Ryu Hyun-jin, who threw 52 pitches through the fourth inning, would have been able to pitch two more innings. The limit number of pitches is around 80.

The reason Toronto is still setting Ryu Hyun-jin’s pitch count at 80 is because he has just returned from Tommy John surgery. It is an elbow that operates directly on the helmet, not on any other part. He will need to gradually adapt to practice. Still, the reason why it feels like they are being ‘too’ protective is because they are often replaced early even though they have the stamina and position to throw more.

Ryu Hyun-jin rehabilitated for about 14 months after Tommy John surgery. AP Yonhap News
Ryu Hyun-jin, who threw 76 pitches until the 5th inning against the Colorado Rockies on the 2nd, already handed the mound to Garcia in the 6th inning with a 4-2 lead. It wasn’t that he lacked command or control. He closed the bottom of the previous 5th inning with a three-way error with 8 balls, so I couldn’t help but wish he would have continued his cheerful pitching rhythm in the 6th inning. As soon as Garcia came out in the 6th inning, he gave up 2 hits in a row and retired with 2 outs, and the next pitcher, Genesis Cabrera, hit a comeback 3-run home run. Manager John Schneider said after the game, “It was a rest day the day before, so I wanted to use the bullpen early because they were sufficiently rested.”

Then, in the game against Oakland on the 7th, Ryu Hyun-jin, who had thrown 77 balls until the 5th inning, was replaced by Trevor Richards in the 6th inning, and he gave up another 3-run home run and lost. At the time, Coach Schneider explained, “There was no need to overdo it by pitching after a four-day break (for the first time since returning).”

Justin Verlander, who underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2020 and returned last year, threw 80 in his first appearance of the season and passed 100 in just 5 games, and threw a whopping 107 in his 7th appearance. Verlander’s rehabilitation period was 16 months, which was about 2 months longer than Ryu Hyun-jin’s.

Why does Toronto cherish Ryu Hyun-jin so much? No, it is correct to say ‘we treat you with utmost respect’. Is it to make Ryu Hyun-jin useful in the playoffs? However, in addition to Ryu Hyun-jin, Toronto’s existing starting pitchers, including Jose Berrios, Chris Bassett, and Yusei Kikuchi, are pitching stably and well. Anyone can tell that the starting order for the playoffs is Gausman, followed by Bassett, Berrios, and Kikuchi. Strictly speaking, Ryu Hyun-jin is a fifth starter with no position in fall baseball.

Ryu Hyun-jin becomes a free agent after this season. He could re-sign with Toronto or he could leave. Of course, it is a leap to think that protection is being done now with renewal of the contract in mind. Local media outlet Bleacher Report said, ”5 innings has become Ryu Hyun-jin’s new normal. “I understand that the club is limiting the number of pitches until he accumulates stamina, but if he continues to pitch 5 innings for the rest of the season, it will be difficult to be recognized as more than the 5th starter in FA negotiations,” he said.

Ryu Hyun-jin has four appearances left. Each game is a critical battle that determines the fate of the playoffs. It remains to be seen whether he can achieve his first quality start on his return.

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