The veteran is in his second season with the team, and things haven’t gone particularly well for him this year.
Fortunately, the season isn’t over yet.
With the Blue Jays in the midst of an intense Wild Card race, Ryu will get a chance to pitch the team to a potentially massive victory over the New York Yankees tonight.
It’s the biggest start of the 34-year-old’s career with Toronto so far.
A Chance To Erase A Poor Campaign
If the Blue Jays make the postseason, no one is going to remember how rocky Ryu’s 2021 campaign was.
Winning heals all wounds, and a playoff berth would give Jays fans plenty to celebrate this season.
Can Ryu help the team get there?
He has a 4.34 ERA, 3.97 FIP, and 1.21 WHIP on the season.
While those numbers are serviceable, expectations were higher for the one-time All-Star entering the season.
But again: Tonight is what matters.
The lefty gets the start in the biggest series in years for the Jays against the Yankees. 1 game behind – 6 to play. Boston ahead too and has an easier schedule, Mariners could have something to say too. Ryu needs to be on. https://t.co/0shgyJaJET
— Ted Bauer (@tedgbauer) September 28, 2021
Ryu has experience pitching in big games.
Over nine career playoff starts, he has a 4.54 ERA.
That might seem mediocre, but he has shown flashes of brilliance on big stages.
For example, he tossed seven shutout innings during an outing in the 2013 NLCS.
In 2018, he tossed seven shutout innings again, this time in the NLDS.
Clearly, he has what it takes to deliver good results in big games.
The Jays are hoping that will be the case tonight.
Ryu Needs To Put His Recent Struggles Behind Him
Ryu’s last two starts were very ugly.
On Sept. 11, he got shelled for seven earned runs over 2.1 innings.
On Sept. 17, he allowed five earned over two frames.
After that Sept. 17 start, he hit the 10-day IL with a neck issue.
Fortunately, it was nothing serious, and he’s obviously feeling good enough to start tonight against New York.
#BlueJays GM Ross Atkins said Hyun Jin Ryu is “about as close to 100% as he can be.”
“He’s been on the some big stages and succeeded,” giving the team confidence tonight
— Mitch Bannon (@MitchBannon) September 28, 2021
Still, he has a 24.92 ERA over his last two starts and 8.10 ERA over his last eight.
But the past is the past, and Ryu needs to focus on what’s in front of him.
The playoffs essentially start for the Blue Jays tonight.
The final week of Toronto’s season needs to be treated like postseason ball, because the team won’t live to see next week if it doesn’t take care of business over the next six days.
It all starts with Ryu tonight.
Ryu Has Had Success Against The Yankees This Season
Good news for the Blue Jays: Ryu has been extremely solid against New York this season.
Over four starts, he has a 1.88 ERA and 0.92 WHIP.
.188 OPP AVG
21 K pic.twitter.com/PPIgIxrLkb
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) September 28, 2021
You can’t ask for much more than that.
Will that trend continue tonight?
That’s the golden question.
The Yankees will counter with Jameson Taillon against Ryu.
Taillon has had a rocky year himself, pitching to a 4.41 ERA and 4.49 FIP.
Even worse, he has an 8.22 ERA over his last three starts.
Ryu and Taillon are clearly having very comparable seasons in some ways, and tonight’s game might be decided by whichever pitcher rises to the occasion.