It’s been an unprecedented MLB season, but thankfully both the Blue Jays and Hyun Jin Ryu still got what they wanted out the relationship in year one of his four-year pact.
If the Blue Jays were going to be able to return to the postseason, they were going to need a certifiable ace. Thankfully the front office acknowledged that last winter and managed to get Hyun Jin Ryu to agree to a four-year deal to come to Toronto.
Other than a dominate couple of months from David Price back in 2015, the Blue Jays haven’t had a legitimate ace since Roy Halladay was still pitching in their uniform. That’s all changed with Ryu’s presence, and he’s more than proven why the Blue Jays were wise to get him under contract, which now looks like a bargain. He’ll finish the regular season with a 5-2 record with a 2.69 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, striking out 72 over 67 innings. If for Shane Bieber‘s ridiculous season in Cleveland, Ryu would likely have a real shot at the AL Cy Young award.
His value can’t be explained by just looking at his numbers though, and the Blue Jays would be the first to tell you. He provided a tremendous example by shutting down the Yankees on Thursday night, throwing his longest outing of the season and giving the Blue Jays the chance to punch their playoff ticket. That’s what you need out of your number one starter, someone you can turn to in order to win the big games.
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It wasn’t just Thursday night though, as Ryu has also provided a steady presence in the rotation, another trait of a coveted ace. Even when things were rocky with the rest of the rotation, the southpaw picked up the ball every five days and suddenly it felt like the Blue Jays were in control, a feeling that hasn’t been terribly frequent this season despite their overall success. If Ross Atkins had a checklist for Ryu in his first year as a Blue Jay, he surely cleared the entire board.
Thankfully the situation hasn’t only been beneficial for the Blue Jays, as Ryu certainly had goals beyond signing a big-dollar deal, although he did just fine with four years and 80 million. That said, he made it clear that he wanted to win, and he saw an opportunity to do just that in Toronto.
It’s possible that he may be pleasantly surprised with the results in 2020, but this is a team that’s quickly on the rise and Ryu no doubt considered that before making his decision. Fortunately he’s already been rewarded with this first step, and while he never won a championship in L.A. with the Dodgers, he’ll get his first crack at finishing the job as a Blue Jay early next week.
There is still all kinds of work to do before the Blue Jays will be hoisting a World Series trophy, but thankfully Ryu is helping them move in the right direction, and that’s gotta make all parties very happy.