“It Could Be Kikuchi”바카라사이트
The “Korean Monster” Ryu Hyun-jin suffered a major injury in June last year during the season. At the time, Ryu had been experiencing ups and downs due to pain in his forearm, and after a medical examination, he was told that he needed Tommy John surgery. Tommy John surgery is a major procedure that typically requires more than a year of rehabilitation before a pitcher can return to the mound. For pitchers, it can be life-threatening, so Ryu’s Tommy John surgery was even more shocking.
At the time, the news of Ryu’s second Tommy John surgery was met with concern in the local media, and there was a lot of pessimism, especially at a time when he was starting to make a serious comeback. However, the tide began to turn when Ryu lost a whopping 13kg through rehabilitation and pitched three innings for the Detroit Tigers’ minor league affiliate on the 5th, giving up one run (one earned) on four hits with five strikeouts.
After getting off to a good start in the rookie league, Ryu’s cruise continued. His pitching remained “steady” as he moved up in the league. On the 10th, Ryu threw 37 pitches in four innings against the New York Yankees’ Single-A affiliate, striking out four and walking none, and on the 16th, he pitched five innings against Detroit Triple-A, throwing 66 pitches, giving up three hits (one home run), walking five and striking out one (one earned).
As Ryu’s return drew closer and closer, so did the fans. “It will be interesting to see what happens from here,” wrote Bluebird Banter, a Toronto fan page on SB Nation in the United States. A month ago, after Alec Manoa was demoted to the Rookie League, the Toronto starting rotation was barely hanging on. But with Hyun-jin Ryu on the wing, all of a sudden, the starting rotation looks deep,” he enthused.
Ryu started the third inning and went five innings. His innings and pitches are up to a reasonable level. There’s not much left to check now. The only thing that remains is his control. In his first rehab start, Ryu topped out at 88 mph (141.6 km/h), but in his last start (on the 16th), he upped his fastball to 89.8 mph (144.5 km/h). But it’s still not enough.
While Ryu is not a “hard-throwing” pitcher, his “average” four-seam fastball was 89.9 mph (144.7 km) in 2021 and 89.3 mph (143.7 km) last year. Currently, Ryu has the highest average velocity of his career. If he wants to be more competitive, he needs to improve his velocity. For now, Toronto is hoping that Ryu’s velocity will rise a bit more.
Ryu will face the Tampa Bay Rays’ Triple-A Durham Bulls on the 22nd. Based on what he’s pitched so far, if Ryu doesn’t reveal any major issues with his pitches, it’s likely that the Korean Monster’s next start will be in the big leagues after his 22nd outing. According to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet Canada, if Ryu throws 80 pitches or more in his 22nd start, “there won’t be much more to see.”
With Ryu’s return looming, Natsuki Une, a former editor-in-chief of Major League Baseball’s Slugger magazine and now a Japanese sportswriter, expressed concern about the future of Yusei Kikuchi. Kikuchi, who signed a three-year, $36 million contract with Toronto prior to last season, is having his best year this year, going 7-3 with a 4.13 ERA. However, he hasn’t been able to consistently maintain his blistering pace from exhibition games and the beginning of the season.
Kikuchi was very good in June, going 27⅔ innings in five starts with a 2.28 ERA, but he struggled in his first start of July, allowing five runs in 4⅓ innings against the Boston Red Sox and four runs (four earned) in five innings against the Chicago White Sox. He followed that up with two runs in 4⅔ innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks on 17 July. He didn’t give up many runs, but his jagged pitches showed signs of anxiety.
On the 21st, Natsuki Une wrote a column titled “Does Ryu Hyun-jin’s Return Keep Yusei Kikuchi Out of the Starting Rotation?”. Natsuki Une wrote, “Ryu Hyun-jin’s return is imminent. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in June last year, Ryu made a rehab appearance this month. He struck out 11 batters and walked none,” and pointed out that Ryu’s rehabilitation was going well.
Natsuki Une also took the time to point out who is likely to be dropped from the starting rotation upon Ryu’s return. “Based on his ERA, it would be natural for Alec Manoa to be dropped from the rotation upon Ryu’s return. However, Manoa just returned to the starting rotation earlier this month. It’s too early to take him out of the rotation.”
Toronto manager John Schneider has hinted at the possibility of using a six-man rotation for the “deadly 17-game series” when Ryu returns. “We could go with a six-man rotation with Ryu, but Manoa hasn’t pitched in the majors since making his debut in 2021,” said Natsuki Une. “It depends on Manoa’s pitching, but it could be Kikuchi who is replaced by Hyun-jin Ryu and drops out of the starting rotation,” said Natsuki Une.
Keegan Matheson of MLB.com’s Toronto coverage also suggested that Kikuchi could be dropped from the starting rotation after his recent struggles. And Natsuki Une seems to have similar thoughts. Kikuchi will take the mound on the 22nd, as will Ryu Hyun-jin. If Ryu pitches well and Kikuchi disappoints once again, that could be the case.