It was April of last year when the “aging curve”바카라 started to talk about Hyun-jin Ryu (36, Toronto Blue Jays). In his first two starts, he had an ERA of 13.50. His fastball, which had been sitting at 145 kilometres per hour, was only averaging between 142 and 143. The aging curve is a phenomenon in which athletic performance inevitably declines after a certain age. It was said that Ryu has reached that age.
He was already on a downward spiral, but his long absence was compounded by an injury. It was then predicted that he would not be able to return easily, and even if he did, it would be difficult for him to be a starting pitcher. Left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin underwent ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery) on his left elbow in June last year and spent 14 months undergoing painstaking and tedious rehabilitation.
On Thursday (Korea time), he pitched a home game against the Chicago Cubs of the Major League Baseball (MLB) at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Ryu Hyun-jin, the winning pitcher, said. “I feel like I’m back to where I wanted to be.”
The victory came in just his third start since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. Ryu allowed just two hits over five innings. He gave up two runs, both unearned, while walking two and striking out three. With the 11-4 victory, Ryu earned his first win of the season and his first in 444 days since a victory over the Los Angeles Angels last May. He also became the oldest Korean big leaguer to win a start at 36 years, 4 months, and 20 days. The previous record was 35 years, 10 months and 13 days set by Chan-ho Park (then of the Philadelphia Phillies) in 2009.
By snapping the team’s three-game losing streak, Ryu also raised hopes of a postseason appearance for the first time in three years. With 66 wins and 54 losses, Toronto is third in the American League East, but in a position to play autumn baseball as a wild card. It’s no wonder the team’s morale has been boosted by the fact that the oldest member of the team cooked a Cubs offence that led all of baseball in runs scored in the second half in the final game of the 17-game series from hell. Ryu, who also pitched in the World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, moved to Toronto in 2020 and hasn’t pitched since, except in the Wild Card Series that year. Toronto made the postseason last year, but Ryu was still rehabbing.
Toronto’s Hyun-jin Ryu throws hard in the fourth inning. AFP
After being hit in the knee by a hard-hit ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers on 8 March and having to leave the game after four scoreless innings, Hyun-jin Ryu was back on the mound just a few days later. He gave up a two-run double to Dansby Swanson with runners on second and third in the first inning, which was unearned because of a throwing error by the first baseman earlier in the inning. After throwing 31 pitches in the first inning, Ryu was economical over the next four innings, finishing with 55. His fastball topped out at 146.5 kilometres. His average was just over 142km, but his pitches struck the corners. His changeup, which he threw 24 times, had a sharp drop angle. All three of his strikeouts came on changeups.
“Since the last game, all my pitches have been working as well as before,” said Ryu, who lowered his ERA to 2.57 (1-1 in three games). His career record is 76-1 with 46 saves.
The local Toronto Sun said, “Ryu has pitched the way the team needed him to pitch,” and Toronto manager John Schneider said, “He’s back to his old self in three games. It’s not easy to do that at his age, but it looks like it’s easy for him.” Ryu is expected to make eight more starts before the end of the season.