It’s an unexpected twist.
The word to describe the 2023 season for the “Korean Monster” Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays) is resurgence. After undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction (Tommy John) surgery last June and entering a long rehabilitation tunnel, his future was unclear. It was only the second Tommy John surgery of his career, after his freshman year at Dongshan High School. Here’s why it was going to be downhill.
Kiwoo was determined. Step by step, he made it back to the big leagues and couldn’t have performed better. In six games, he’s 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA (8 earned runs in 29 innings). He’s used his “proprietary” command to keep hitters at bay, striking out 23 while walking just seven.
His last outing, against the Colorado Rockies on April 2, was equally impressive, especially as he handled the pressure of Coors Field, Colorado’s home stadium, which is often referred to as a pitcher’s graveyard.
Located in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Coors Field reaches an altitude of around 1600 meters above sea level, which means that the air is less dense and balls have a much better flight. It’s one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in Major League Baseball (ML), and Ryu struggled there, going 1-4 with a 7.06 ERA (21 earned runs in 26⅔ innings) in six starts.
He overcame that. He allowed two runs on four hits (one home run) in five innings. He was flawless, except for the two runs he allowed on a long ball. Leading 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, he walked off the mound with the win requirement at 76 pitches, but a bullpen meltdown prevented him from getting the win. The team went on to win 13-9, which is a testament to how well he pitched considering the brawl erupted as soon as he went down.
The praise for him has not gone unnoticed. Toronto gave him a thumbs-up on their official social media account, calling him a “living legend. Sportsnet, a Canadian outlet, also praised him, saying, “Ryu’s five innings of two-run ball at Coors Field is the equivalent of a seven-inning no-hitter (at another ballpark).”
The spotlight is already on his second free agency after the season. This is the final year of Ryu’s four-year, $80 million free agent contract. Initially, the outlook wasn’t promising. His age, injury, and surgery history were all factors. There was even speculation that he might return to the KBO.온라인바카
His veteran swagger has changed that assessment. “He’s an attractive pitcher to any team that signs him,” Sportsnet wrote, predicting his stay in the big leagues. Even if he doesn’t get the “big bucks” of his first contract, he’s proving himself to be competitive enough to earn a one- or two-year deal and a spot in the starting rotation.