In an extremely trying week for the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans, the team was delivered a burst of good news when it was announced that pitchers Hyun Jin Ryu and Chad Green are on schedule in their respective rehab assignments.
This is encouraging for manager John Schneider, Pitching Coach Pete Walker, and the rest of the staff and players.
The team has been exposed recently to a lack of depth, and the activation of two valuable veterans would provide a shot in the arm for the squad during the season’s second half.
When the Blue Jays signed Ryu to a four-year, $80 million contract before the 2020 season, he was expected to serve as the team’s ace for the duration of his deal.
After a solid effort during the truncated 2020 campaign that resulted in a third-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting, Ryu hasn't been able to maintain that rate. After slipping to a 4.37 ERA in 2021, the left-hander was limited to six starts and a 5.67 earned run average last season.
He may not be the front-line starter he was a few years ago, but the 35-year-old can still provide a boost as the Jays begin thinking about a push to the postseason.
How he’ll fit on the staff is a curious thing to ponder. He could fill his usual role as a starter; and allow the team to use a six-man cycle. Alternatively, Ryu could be added to the bullpen, where he’d join Tim Mayza as the only southpaws on the roster.
He’s only made one relief appearance in his MLB career. It’s unknown how he’d respond to being asked to be a reliever. Although his knowledge, experience, and abilities would only help a team that could use all the assistance it can get.
Chad Green was the last piece of the offseason puzzle, and although he had recently undergone Tommy John surgery, he possesses the kind of swing-and-miss stuff the bullpen could use more of.
The 31-year-old has been a high-volume strikeout pitcher since breaking into the big leagues with the New York Yankees in 2016. His best season came in 2017 when he went 5-0 with a 1.83 ERA, a 0.73 WHIP, and 13.4 SO/9.
Green projects to slot immediately into high-leverage situations coming out of the Blue Jays bullpen.
Both pitchers should inject enthusiasm into the team and will be like in-house trade deadline acquisitions. That’s not to say the Jays won’t make additional moves, depending on their place in the standings, but Ryu and Green will improve a pitching staff that has looked vulnerable at times in 2023.