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Another good rehab start for Ryu

A wobble in the middle, but dominant to start and finish

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Last night in Syracuse, Hyun-Jin Ryu turned in another very good rehab outing, going 6 innings on 85 pitches, striking out 5 and allowing just 3 hits and one walk to the second last batters. As I’ll touch on below, there was one one stretch where he was touched up to allow two runs on a pair of solo shots, but that aside he was in vintage form in terms of keeping hitters off balance and looked completely ready to step back into the majors.

Ryu faced the minimum over the first 4 innings, needing just 48 pitches (34 strikes) to suppress a lineup that has generally lit up Buffalo pitching this year. He struck out two batters (on 7 and 10 pitches, the only ones to go more than four), but double plays erasing the only runners (a leadoff chopper Ryu threw wildly to first and a soft flare). In fact, the best hit struck ball was the first double play ball.

At the outset, Ryu’s fastball was again sitting in the high-80s, topping out at 90 once on a swinging strikeout. The change-up and curve were really on point, mixing in a few cutters. Notably, in the middle innings, the velocity was trending downwards to the mid-80s, and the change-up disappeared for a while.

That’s when Syracuse did get to him. Luke Voit just got under a ball to end the fourth, still driving deep to CF and looking better off the bat. The first pitch of the 5th was an 86 MPH fastball over the plate that Jonathan Arauz hooked to left field for a home run. Two batters later, another ball was driven to left field for another solo shot.

Interestingly, right after the first home run Ryu’s fastball velo bumped back up a couple ticks, back to more 87-89 and again touched a 90. Almost like he had been holding back. Shortly after, the changeup came back out, and order was restored as finished the outing by completely flummoxing the top of the order the 3rd time through.

Was he pacing himself, or toying around? Or did he hit a bit of a wall in the middle? For me, this is really the only important question. At the beginning and end, he looked like the guy who rolled through lineups in 2020 and completely ready to come up and bolster the Blue Jays postseason run. I suppose maybe the Jays could want to stretch him out a little more with another start, but to my mind the only reason to not to bring him back would be if the dip in the middle was a side effect of the arm not being all the way back.