Ryu Hyun-jin’s “shocking 101km curve” freezes hitters, but there’s more to come
Toronto Blue Jays RHP Hyun-jin Ryu, 36, got his first quality start of the season with his slow curveball, but it also came with some challenges.
Ryu took the loss against the Texas Rangers on April 13 (ET) at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, allowing three runs on five hits (one home run) and one walk while striking out five in six innings. Ryu did his job, but the offense couldn’t respond, and Toronto lost 3-6.
After undergoing Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament splicing) in June of last year, Ryu is back in the major leagues after nearly 13 months and is looking strong. On the season, he is 3-2 with a 2.75 ERA in eight games (39⅓ innings).
His 82-pitch arsenal includes a four-seam (25 pitches), changeup (18 pitches), cutter (18 pitches), curve (16 pitches), and sinker (5 pitches). His fastball topped out at 90.6 miles per hour (145.8 km/h) and his curveball topped out at 62.5 miles per hour (100.6 km/h). The difference in velocity between the two pitches was up to 45.2 kilometers.
Ryu utilized the difference in velocity between his fastball and curveball to completely throw off the timing of Texas hitters, most notably against Nathaniel Lowe with one out in the top of the fourth inning. After getting a strike with an 84.4 mph (135.8 km/h) cutter in the first inning, Ryu followed up with a high 87.3 mph (140.5 km/h) fastball to induce a foul swing, forcing Lowe into a two-strike count. Lowe fouled off an 87.6-mph (141.0-kilometer) fastball three pitches later, but when the final 62.6-mph (100.7-kilometer) curveball came in high, he was stuck. Lowe walked back to the dugout with a despondent look on his face.
“Ryu dropped a shocking 63 mph fastball to strike out Lowe,” wrote Sports Illustrated. The look on Lowe’s face as he walked back to the dugout, stunned by the extreme difference in velocity, is something you don’t see every day. Ryu threw the ball as if he was taking batting practice or a soft toss, and it looked like it was going to be high and out of the strike zone, but it ended up perfectly in the high part of the strike zone. Lowe had no choice but to freeze.”
The Toronto broadcasters of the game also said, “Ryu threw his fastest four-seam this season and the slowest curveball of his career. What we saw tonight was an eye test,” and marveled at Ryu’s ability to mix fastballs and off-speed pitches.
However, Ryu still had his problems. His cutter, which has long been an important part of his arsenal alongside his changeup, had been targeted. In the fourth inning, Ryu threw a cutter to leadoff hitter Corey Seager and got a hit, then threw a cutter to Robbie Grossman and gave up a two-run homer.
After the cutter was hit, Ryu switched to his curveball. But Texas hitters, who had begun to time his slower curveball, were waiting for it, and after not allowing a single hit through five innings, Ryu’s curveball gave up two hits in the sixth.
Ryu was very efficient, utilizing the difference in velocity between his fastball and curveball. However, the two hits he gave up in the sixth inning showed that he can’t rely on his slow curveball to carry him through long innings.메이저놀이터
After going six innings for the first time since returning from injury, Hyun-jin Ryu is likely to start against Boston on April 18. It will be interesting to see what Ryu comes up with in his next start.