Manager confirms Ryu Hyun-jin is a starter… Someone demoted to bullpen, Japanese pitcher Choi Yoo-hyuk a candidate

Posted Posted onMay 28, 2023 Comments0

“Ryu will be in the starting rotation when he returns”

Toronto manager John Schneider was pleased with the progress of Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto) during spring training in February. “When asked about his plans for the second half of the season, Schneider said, “When he comes back, he’ll be in the starting rotation,” indicating that he plans to use Ryu as a starter. That’s assuming he rehabs normally and finds relief, but the team’s plan seems solid.

Ryu is the team’s ace, and he’s on a four-year, $80 million contract. He has started nearly every game in the KBO and in the major leagues. In 175 games of his major league career, Ryu has only made one bullpen appearance, an oddity for a 2017 team that never fully recovered from a shoulder injury.

That leaves one player missing. Toronto went with Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Alec Manoa, Chris Bassitt, and Yusei Kikuchi in the opening rotation, and the rotation hasn’t changed much so far. With the exception of Manoa, a third-year pitcher who has yet to qualify for a salary adjustment, they’re all highly paid, making more than $10 million. The question is who to cut.

Ryu is still more than two months away from returning. He’s been pitching out of the bullpen and won’t be able to make a minor league rehab start until June. Once he completes his rehab schedule, he should be ready to go in mid-to-late July. That leaves plenty of time for the five rotation members to showcase their skills.

However, Japanese left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, 32, is arguably the most unsettled at this point. There are several factors that point to Kikuchi being sent to the bullpen.

Ryu Hyun-jin pitches in the bullpen in front of the coaching staff ⓒToronto team SNS

Kikuchi’s offensive struggles have led to a spike in home runs, which is not a positive.

To begin with, Kikuchi was the last man standing in the starting rotation. In spring training, Toronto had confirmed its 1-4 starters, and several players, including Kikuchi, were competing for the last spot먹튀검증. Kikuchi won the competition and earned the fifth spot. Conversely, he’s also the first player to be cut if someone else comes in.

His performance hasn’t been great either. As of the 27th, Gaussman has a 3.03 ERA and 3.03 WHIP, while Berrios has a 4.22 ERA. Kikuchi has a 4.56 ERA. Manoa (5.53) is worse than Kikuchi, but he showed something last year and is the team’s favorite next ace. If I had to choose between Manoa and Kikuchi, I’d probably take Kikuchi.

It’s also about bullpen versatility. Kikuchi has already been utilized by Toronto in the bullpen. Of his 32 appearances last year, 12 were in the bullpen. He is also the only left-hander in the Toronto rotation. He could potentially swap duties with Ryu Hyun-jin, who is also a lefty. He also has the least amount of time left on his contract. Ryu is signed through this year and Kikuchi through next year. The others will remain in Toronto beyond 2024.

There are some positive indicators for Kikuchi, as his strikeouts are down this year. He’s winning pitches offensively. If he’s going to walk, he might as well walk. This is paying off in a number of ways. Their strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.43) is one of the best in the majors. On the flip side, he’s giving up too many home runs. In 2020 with Seattle, Kikuchi allowed just 0.57 home runs per nine innings, but that number jumped to 2.06 last year and 2.45 this year. That’s why his ERA is so low, despite the quality of his pitches.

Robbie Ray, who has also seen his strikeouts increase at the expense of his walks due to Toronto’s aggressive offense, has also seen his home runs increase. However, he was not at the same level as Kikuchi. But there’s still time to judge Toronto, and it all starts with the assumption that Ryu finds his groove, so there’s a turning point.


Leave a Comment