Breaking: Ryu to Jays. 80M, 4 years.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 23, 2019
Ryu performed brilliantly in 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He led the league with the lowest ERA at 2.32, won 14 games and had the league’s best walk rate at 1.2 BB/9. The accolades were plentiful as well. The left-hander was an all-star for the first time in his career, finished second in the Cy Young award voting and even earned some votes for MVP where he finished 19th. His 5.3 bWAR adds to the fact that 2019, by all accounts, was a career year for the 32-year-old.
Perhaps the most remarkable of all is the impeccable control that Ryu showed in 2019. He walked only 24 batters in 182.2 innings. Simply incredible when you consider the high rate of walks in the game today. Ryu also managed to post a career-high in strikeouts with 163.
Ryu achieves success by throwing an assortment of pitches, anytime and in any count. According to BaseballSavant, Ryu throws a cutter, sinker, curveball, changeup and four-seam fastball all more than 10% of the time. He mixes his changeup and fastball almost equally (27%) and since he can throw all of these pitches for strikes the lefty can really keep hitters off balance.
If there is a risk factor with signing Ryu, it comes from his injury history. While healthy in 2019, the South Korea native has had issues in the past. He has had one Tommy John surgery, two other arm surgeries and, in 2018, he tore a muscle in his groin off the bone. Also, since he was already 26 when he arrived in the United States in 2013 Ryu is older than most first time free agents at 32 years old.
While these are surely issues to keep in mind, the bottom line is that when he is healthy Ryu has shown he is an elite starter. His healthy 2019 made Ryu one of the most sought after free agents this winter.
The Blue Jays will undoubtedly monitor Hyun-Jin Ryu closely throughout the season to keep him healthy. He will pitch deep into games because of his elite walk rate and he keeps the ball in the yard. If he’s healthy Ryu is someone that will pitch like an ace but at a fraction of the price.