Blue Jays’ Ryu Hyun-jin pitches 5 solid innings in minor league rehab start

July 17, 2023

Working his way back from elbow surgery, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin now has a solid Triple-A start under his belt.

Pitching for the Buffalo Bisons, the South Korean left-hander gave up a run on three hits in five innings against the Toledo Mud Hens, the Detroit Tigers affiliate, at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday (local time).

It was Ryu’s third minor league outing since undergoing Tommy John surgery to repair ligament damage in his left elbow in June 2022.

He has been gradually increasing his workload, with an eye on rejoining the Blue Jays before the end of this month. He threw three innings in Rookie ball and then four innings in a Single-A game before going five innings this time and making 66 pitches, 46 of them for strikes.

Ryu struck out five Mud Hens batters and did not walk a batter. The only blemish was a solo home run by Justyn-Henry Malloy with one out in the first inning.

Ryu struck out two in a clean second inning and added another strikeout in another three-up, three-down inning in the third.

He gave up two singles in the fourth inning but escaped the jam by getting Johan Camargo to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play.

Two flyouts and a strikeout took care of the fifth inning for Ryu, who, according to local reports, averaged 87.6 mph with his fastball and topped out at 89.3 mph.

Ryu, 36, is in the final year of his four-year, US$80 million contract with the Blue Jays.

In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Ryu went 5-2 with a 2.69 ERA in 12 starts and finished third in the AL Cy Young Award voting. His ERA ballooned to 4.37 in 2021, when he was 14-10 in 31 starts and pitched to a 5.50 ERA in the second half.

Then in 2022, Ryu made only six starts before shutting things down to undergo elbow surgery. He finished with a 2-0 record and a 5.67 ERA.

Through Saturday, the Blue Jays were 52-41, occupying the second wild card spot in the American League (AL). They have the fifth-best ERA in the AL at 3.81.