An indirect indication of how quickly the Toronto Blue Jays staff’s confidence in Hyun-jin Ryu was restored came on April 23 against the Baltimore Orioles.
In that game at Oriole Park, Toronto starter Yusei Kikuchi didn’t make it past the fifth inning despite pitching relatively well. In 4⅔ innings, he gave up three runs on seven hits with one walk.스포츠토토 Some analysts believe that getting Kikuchi out of the game early was the key to Toronto’s 6-3 win in 10 innings.
Kikuchi, who had allowed one run through four innings, gave up back-to-back singles to lead off the fifth to Jorge Mateo and Adley Rutman to put runners on first and second. After getting Ryan Mountcastle to fly out to left field, Kikuchi struck out Gunnar Henderson on a wild pitch to get out of the jam, but catcher Danny Jansen’s throw to catch Rushman at first base for a double steal was misplayed, allowing Mateo to round third and score from second.
Kikuchi then walked Austin Hayes to load the bases. However, the next batter, Ima Garcia, gave up a double to left to Jordan Westberg to tie the game at 3-3 and extend Kikuchi’s run total to three.
Kikuchi, who had thrown 82 pitches, could have gone another inning, but manager John Schneider made a bold move. It was a somewhat surprising move, as Kikuchi had been the most consistent of Toronto’s starters in the second half.
Yusei Kikuchi has allowed one earned run or less in six straight games, but he has yet to fully earn the trust of manager John Schneider. USATODAYYahoo!
However, the Toronto bullpen proved Schneider’s decision right, pitching five flawless innings from the sixth to the 10th inning of extra innings without allowing a run.
“Kikuchi was on track to become the most successful starting pitcher in Blue Jays history, but he still has a lot of work to do to earn his manager’s complete trust,” the Toronto Star wrote. In other words, the manager didn’t trust him in crunch time.
Kikuchi pitched six consecutive games with one earned run or less, starting on July 17 against the Arizona Diamondbacks and ending on July 16 against the Philadelphia Phillies. That was previously accomplished by two other pitchers in Toronto history, Dave Stipe in 1988-1989 and Hyun-jin Ryu in 2020. In his rookie season, Hyun-jin Ryu had a six-game streak of one earned run or less from Aug. 6, 2020, against the Atlanta Braves to Sept. 3, 2020, against the Miami Marlins.
If Kikuchi had gotten through the fifth inning and finished his assignment without allowing another run, he would have set a franchise record for consecutive games with one earned run or less.
Another Toronto pitcher who can be mentioned in relation to trust is Alec Manoa. Manoa was a rookie ace who finished third in the Cy Young voting last year with 16 wins and a 2.24 ERA. But less than a year later, his credibility was shattered.
Alex Manoa’s ups and downs have been so severe since his return that he was cut from the roster. AP
Schneider removed Alex Manoa from the major league roster the next day after he gave up four runs on four hits in four innings against the Cleveland Indians on Nov. 11. The reason was that he could no longer trust his jagged pitches. After returning from a month-long minor league assignment on March 8, Manoa struggled to a 4.91 ERA in his next six games. It was time to cut Manoa from the six-man rotation to a five-man rotation. Manoa is currently with the big league club, trying to figure out when he’ll return, with no set deadline.
Meanwhile, Schneider’s confidence in Hyun-jin Ryu, who returned from Tommy John surgery last June, appears to be solid. Ryu took a loss against Baltimore in his comeback, giving up four runs on nine hits in five innings, but has since returned to his “Vintage Ryu” form, giving up four unearned runs in 14 innings over the next three games, all with great command and a colorful mix of pitches.
Compared to Kikuchi and Manoa, Ryu’s position is becoming more solid. With his velocity and innings pitched still finding their groove, it’s hard to see him being left out of the rotation. If Toronto were to make the postseason right now, they would have to go with a four-man rotation of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassett, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.