The MRI results came back for Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, and the diagnosis is alarming. He has suffered a forearm strain and elbow inflammation, manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters (including Keegan Matheson of MLB.com).
Toronto didn’t provide much else on Ryu’s timetable. Montoyo said he’d be out “multiple weeks,” and he’s slated to undergo further testing to determine the severity of the issue. A forearm strain diagnosis is always alarming given how often that terminology is a precursor to Tommy John surgery, but there’s no indication that’s on the table at this time.
Ryu is no stranger to health concerns, having spent time on the injured list in every full season — excluding the shortened 2020 schedule — since 2013. He’s dealt with a litany of issues, but the most alarming was a combination of shoulder surgery and elbow tendinitis that cost him virtually all of the 2015-16 seasons. Ryu’s more recent injuries were mostly lower-half related, but he hit the IL earlier this year on account of forearm inflammation.
The 35-year-old returned from that bout of inflammation after a few weeks, but he made just four starts before again dealing with discomfort. Ryu suggested that his latest issue felt similar to the early-season problem, and the Jays placed him on the 15-day IL yesterday.
Ryu is in the third season of a four-year contract. He was exceptional in 2020, posting a 2.69 ERA with strong peripherals through 67 innings. While he made 31 starts and soaked up 167 frames last year, he wasn’t as effective on a rate basis. Ryu posted a 4.37 mark, continuing to demonstrate strong control and ground-ball numbers but watching his strikeout percentage fall from 26.2% to 20.4%. That rate has dropped to a well below-average 14.2% this season, while Ryu’s ERA has spiked to 5.33 over six outings.
It remains to be seen when Ryu might be able to reclaim his rotation spot in Toronto. In the interim, swingman Ross Stripling will step into the starting five alongside Alek Manoah, Kevin Gausman, José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi. That’s still a strong group, particularly with Manoah and Gausman performing brilliantly. Stripling has started five of his 13 outings this season, posting a 4.22 ERA with an excellent 54.5% ground-ball percentage.