Hyun Jin Ryu is entering the final season of a four-year, $80M contract he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays heading into the 2020 season.
Ryu, now 35, performed well in 2020 and 2021 but went down with an injury last year just six starts into the season, eventually having to undergo the dreaded Tommy John surgery.
While many have written him off for the 2023 season, there are some encouraging signs emerging that could suggest a mid-season return for Ryu is indeed on the table.
As Ryu continues to ramp up his rehab, Lee reports that the left-hander has lost 15 pounds in the last two months and is going to be starting bullpen sessions as early as next month.
A recovered and resurgent Ryu could be a massive addition to the Blue Jays staff down the stretch. The rotation is already heavily banking on a return to form for Yusei Kikuchi and José Berríos. Kikuchi is off to an excellent start (thanks to his brand new beard) and Berríos has had an up-and-down spring so far.
If Ryu can prove to be healthy around the All-Star break, he will give the Jays yet another option in the rotation. He could easily slot into the sixth starter role or even function as a long-relief pitcher for the first time in his nine-year career.
A 2019 All-Star who has twice finished in the top-three in Cy Young Award voting, Ryu has shown over the years that he is an exceptional pitcher when he's healthy. Unfortunately, that's been the issue for him, as he has made over 25 starts just four times (although he did make 24 in 2017).
Ryu is the second pitcher on the roster that is recovering from Tommy John surgery alongside the recently-signed Chad Green. Green, like Ryu, is said to be aiming for a mid-season return. The additions of these two hurlers will feel like trade deadline acquisitions for a Jays club that will hopefully be firmly in contention.