Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu (36) showed off his dancing curveball to tease batters.

Ryu took the mound against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Ohio, U.S., on Monday (21 July) and pitched five innings of four-hit ball with one walk and seven strikeouts for a two-run, no-decision victory.

Ryu, who underwent Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament reconstruction) in June last year, returned to the big leagues after a 13-month absence amid mixed expectations. He gave up four runs on nine hits (one homer) and one walk in five innings with seven strikeouts in his comeback loss to Baltimore on 2 February, but hasn’t allowed an earned run in his next three games, picking up two wins. On the season, he is 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in four games (19 innings).

With 83 pitches thrown, 스포츠토토 Ryu showed a significant drop in velocity today. His fastball (38 pitches), changeup (18 pitches), curveball (16 pitches), and cutter (11 pitches) averaged 87.4 mph (140.7 km) and peaked at 89.6 mph (144.2 km), well below his season average of 88.3 mph (142.1 km) and high of 91.1 mph (146.6 km).

[Photo] Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays. ⓒGettyimages (All rights reserved)

However, Cincinnati hitters were unable to capitalise on Ryu’s slower delivery. It was encouraging to see seven strikeouts, especially after averaging less than one per inning in his previous outings. All of his pitches were evenly distributed, but his curveball had the most strikeouts with three (two four-seamers, one changeup, and one cutter).

After his changeup was uncharacteristically heavily targeted with three hits, Ryu quickly found a solution by centring his game around his curveball. The slower curveball, which averaged 68.8 miles per hour (110.7 km/h), had Cincinnati batters fumbling with their bats and failing to get their timing right. On the day, Ryu had a 43 per cent swing rate on his curveball and drew seven walks, the most of any pitcher.

[Photo] Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays. ⓒGettyimages (All rights reserved)

“I thought (the Cincinnati hitters) were going to be very aggressive, so I tried to get ahead in the count,” Ryu told local media after the game. Getting ahead in the count was the key to pitching today and I think it worked out well. My curve was 100 out of 100 today,” he said, expressing his satisfaction with it.

Ryu, who has shown he is healthy after coming back from Tommy John surgery following a shoulder injury, used his changeup against the Cubs on the 14th and his curveball as his primary offering today. One of Ryu’s unique strengths is his ability to use all of his pitches – fastball, changeup, curveball, and cutter – at a high level and find a solution when one of them isn’t working. Fans are eager to see what Ryu will do next, as he is expected to start a home game against Cleveland on the 27th.

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