The Blue Jays have placed left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu on the 10-day injured list due to neck tightness. The placement is retroactive to September 18. Left-hander Tayler Saucedo has been called up to take Ryu’s roster spot.
Jays GM Ross Atkins told reporters (including The Athletic’s Kaitlyn McGrath) that Ryu woke up with a sore neck yesterday, a day after an abbreviated start against the Twins. The team is hoping the injury is minor enough that Ryu will miss only one start, and make a quick return to a Toronto club that is battling to return to the postseason.
While Ryu will be missed in the Blue Jays rotation, a brief reset might have been in order given the southpaw’s struggles over his last two starts. Ryu threw six scoreless innings against the Yankees on September 6 but left that game with some minor forearm soreness. Both Ryu and the team felt he was well enough to keep pitching, though Ryu has since allowed 12 earned runs over 4 1/3 innings in rough outings against the Orioles and Twins.
Ryu had a minimal 10-day IL stint due to a glute strain earlier this season, but has otherwise been pretty healthy over his two seasons in Toronto, which is no small feat for a pitcher who battled multiple injuries earlier in his career with the Dodgers. Ryu’s 159 2/3 innings pitched in 2021 is the third-highest total of his eight MLB seasons, though there has been some indication that the grind of the longer season could be getting to the 34-year-old, even prior to his forearm issue. Ryu has an 8.10 ERA over his last 36 2/3 innings, as opposed to a 3.22 ERA in his first 123 frames.
Atkins said that Ross Stripling is a candidate to take Ryu’s next turn in the rotation, which falls Wednesday against the Rays. Since Toronto doesn’t play on September 27, Ryu would line up to return for a September 28 start against the Yankees if he is able to be activated from the IL when first eligible.
In the interim, the Blue Jays will have to get by without one of their top starters, though the Jays rotation has become a quiet strength. Led by Cy Young Award candidate Robbie Ray and bolstered by the likes of Ryu, Steven Matz, trade deadline pickup Jose Berrios, and star rookie Alek Manoah, Toronto ranks eighth in baseball in starter ERA. Stripling has a 4.69 ERA over 86 1/3 IP as a starting pitcher this year, as he has continued to be plagued by hard contact and problems with allowing home runs.