The Blue Jays signed Hyun Jin Ryu December 22 (on Baseball Reference it says 27th, but our story on the signing went up on the 22nd). He got an $80 million, 4-year contract.Ryu had been with the Dodgers since December 9, 2012 after 7 seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization, with the Hanwha Eagles. In those 7 seasons, he had a 98-52 record, a 2.80 ERA in 190 games, 181 starts.
The Dodgers paid $25.7 million for the right to negotiate with Ryu and then signed him for $36 million for a 6-year contract.As a Dodger, his first two seasons were very good, with 28-15 record, 3.17 ERA in 56 starts. Then he missed 2 seasons with shoulder troubles in 2015 and elbow troubles in 2016 (well, he got in one start). In 2018 he missed more time to injuries, but in 2019, he put together a great season, going 14-5, with a 2.32 ERA in 29 starts, finishing second in NL Cy Young voting. That worked out very well for Ryu, going into free agency.
I think it is fair to say that we were pretty happy with the signing. With Ryu coming into his age 33 season, there were reasons to temper our enthusiasm, but it looked like we were getting the ace we needed.Within the rather strange circumstances of this shortened season, he pitched like an ace, minus the complete games that we generally expect from one. But 2020 was a different type of season.
Baseball Reference has him at a 3.0 WAR (pretty good for a 60 game season, putting him 2nd among AL pitchers). Fangraphs at 1.9 (putting him 8th among AL pitchers)
Ryu had a .302 BABIP, up from .278 last year. 80.5% of the base runners he allowed were stranded.
He had a 3.01 FIP and a 3.32 xFIP.
His line drive rate was 20.9% (down from 24.2 last year), ground ball (51.1%, up from 50.4) and fly ball 28.0% (up from 25.4). 11.8% of his fly balls left the park (down from 13.0%).
Ryu’s strikeout rate was 26.2% (up from 22.5) and walk rate was 6.2% (up a lot from 3.3).
Both soft contact (15.7%, from 20.3) and hard contact (24.3% from 34.2) were down, so medium contact (60.0%, from 45.5) was up.
Right-handed batters (.238/.293/.359) hit him better than left-handed batters (.220/.250/.320).
And Ryu had a better ERA at home (2.10) than on the road (3.16), even though batters hit better off him at home (.241/.285/.371) than on the road (.229/.285/.336). This only counts Sahlen Field as home, not games where he was the ‘home’ pitcher in another park.
Ryu by month:
- July: 0-1, 8.00 ERA in 2 starts. Batters hit .325/.400/.625 in 9 innings.
- August: 2-0, 0.96 ERA in 5 starts. Batters hit .175/.223/.216 in 28 innings.
- September: 3-1, 2.70 ERA in 5 starts. Batters hit .252/.294/.370 in 30 innings.
He had a slow start but was terrific after that.
The Jays were 9-3 in his starts.
He started on 5 days rest 7 times (8 if you count the playoff game) and 4 days rest 4 times. We averaged 4.71 runs per game in his starts. He had a 2.74 ERA, batters hitting .211/.260/.344 on 4 days rest. 2.29 ERA, batters hitting .250/.288/.331 on 5 days rest.
His best start of the season, by GameScore, was a 70 on August 5th against the Braves. He went 5 innings allowed 1 hits, 3 walks with a season high 8 strikeouts (tied for season high).
His worst start (other than the playoff game) was a 29 on July 30th (his second start of the season, in Washington against the Nationals. He went 4.1, allowed 9 hits, 5 earned, 1 walks with 5 strikeouts.
His season low was 84 pitches thrown, high was 100 in his last start of the season. He averaged 94.3 pitches a start.
He averaged 5.6 innings per start.
If we ignore the playoff start, he had an excellent season. There is no chance that they would have made the playoffs without him. He walked more batters than in the past. And he’s on a team that walks more batters than his old team. I wonder if there was something in the catching or the pitch calling that caused that. Maybe Jansen will err towards the side of not giving into batters, over going after them?
Or maybe it was just the weird season.The playoff start was a surprise. Ryu hadn’t had a ‘bad’ start since July 30th, before that game. His velocity was down, and he didn’t look sharp with any pitches. They mentioned that he had a bit of shoulder soreness after his last start of the season. I don’t know if there were any lingering effects.
In his last 10 starts of the season he had a 1.86 ERA. We had every right to expect another good start. Such is baseball, I guess.On the whole, FanGraph has his average fastball a tick slower (89.6 MPH, compared to 90.6 last year). He threw it less than last year (34.7% of the time, compared to 40.6). His cutter was also slower (85.5 MPH, down from 87.0). He threw that more than last year (24.3% compared to 19.5). His curve and change were about the same speed and were used about the same amount as last year.
After that playoff game, it is hard to remember that he had a great season. I think it would have been a pretty miserable Blue Jays season without him.
I would grade Hyun Jin Ryu’s 2020 season an
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