Hyun Jin Ryu, who underwent Tommy John surgery last summer, will be reinstated to start Tuesday’s game against the Orioles. Manager John Schneider told reporters, including Scott Mitchell of TSN, that the club will use a six-man rotation for a while.
Ryu, 36, signed a four-year, $80MM deal with the Jays going into 2020. He was brilliant in that first year, posting a 2.69 ERA in the shortened season. That figure ticked up to 4.37 the next year, then was at 5.67 last year before he required Tommy John in June. He has since been targeting a return around the 2023 All-Star break and will now be back just slightly beyond that.
It’s been an open question as to how the Jays would handle Ryu’s return. Their five starters have remarkably remained healthy all year, with none of Kevin Gausman, Chris Bassitt, José Berríos, Yusei Kikuchi or Alek Manoah requiring a stint on the injured list. Manoah did struggle immensely and get optioned down to the club’s Florida Complex for a month from early June, but has since returned.
It seems the club will stick with all six of those starters for now. As pointed out by Keegan Matheson of MLB.com, the Jays have a stretch of 17 games in 17 days, starting tonight and going until August 13. They then have three off-days in just over a week and will likely need to make a decision at that point as to how they proceed.
Kikuchi has previously been pushed to the bullpen and could be an option for that again, though he’s having good results so far this year. His 3.79 ERA would be a career best if he could maintain it, though a 84.8% strand rate points to some regression, hence his 4.79 FIP and 3.96 SIERA. Manoah was already optioned once and could perhaps receive that treatment again. His first start back from the wilderness saw him strike out eight Tigers while walking none. He then walked five Padres in his next start without a single punchout. His third start was a middle ground, as he walked four Mariners while striking out six.
Back in June, when Manoah was still on optional assignment and Ryu still on the IL, general manager Ross Atkins said that starting pitching would be an “obvious area” for the club to target at the deadline. Perhaps the returns of those two pitchers changes that calculus, though that will be seen over the coming days. The deadline is August 1.