There’s only one role he can play, long relief…
Will Hyun-jin Ryu be ready for fall baseball?
Hyun-jin Ryu’s Toronto Blue Jays are third in the American League wild-card race, punching their ticket to the postseason. They’ll face the first-place Minnesota Twins in the Central Division for the wild card.
District winners, but deserving of more. Minnesota won the Central, the weakest division, with an 87-75 record. Toronto, third in the East, went 89-73. For now, I’m okay with the bracket.
Now the only question for Korean fans is whether Ryu will play or not. In his late-season return from elbow surgery, Ryu went 3-3 with a 3.46 ERA in 11 starts. He was steady early in his comeback, but struggled with his velocity down the stretch. 무지개토토
Ryu was effectively a fifth starter, but you don’t need five starters in the postseason. Toronto already has a solid lineup of Gaussman, Berrios, Bassett, and Guicci. They don’t even need a fourth starter for the best-of-three wild-card series.
So, to put it bluntly, there is no place for Ryu. He needs to go to the middle. However, Ryu has no experience in the bullpen. You could argue that he can handle the bullpen because he’s been there and done that, but the problem is relief. The bullpen needs to be able to shut down in crunch time and pitch a full inning. But right now, Ryu can’t even touch 145 mph. That’s not good enough for the bullpen, although he can still start games.
If Ryu isn’t a starter, his next best option is long relief. In a good way, it’s long relief, and you can approach it as a buy-one-get-one concept, but the reality is that it’s more of a relief role when the starter has to go off the mound early due to unforeseen circumstances, or a game-ending role when the early game breaks down. In a best-of-seven series, this may be necessary, but in a division series, where every game is a wild-card game, the existing pitchers on the roster can cover the middle ground. If Kikuchi doesn’t get the start, he can fill this role. In fact, more than pitchers, you need to have more bats on the roster for late-game options.
If manager John Schneider values Ryu’s experience, he could pull off a surprise upset. However, it doesn’t seem likely.