Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Now In Toronto Is Hyun-Jin Ryu Destined To Disappoint In 2020?

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There had been lots of rumors as to where Hyun-Jin Ryu would land, with numerous teams battling for his services. It made sense, especially with many of the top options already coming off the board and Ryu himself nearly winning a Cy Young Award in 2019. There always would’ve been questions as to whether or not he could maintain that type of success, but deciding to sign with Toronto only adds to the questions. What are the chances he can maintain these numbers while maneuvering through the AL East:

182.2 IP
14 Wins
2.32 ERA
1.01 WHIP
163 Strikeouts (8.03 K/9)
24 Walks (1.18 BB/9)
50.4% Groundball Rate
.278 BABIP

Ryu has made a change in his approach on the mound, starting to utilize a sinker. After never throwing it before he worked it in a little bit in ’18 (5.43%) before further incorporating it in ’19 (14.24%). That helps to explain the improvement in his groundball rate, something that is going to be vital to his success pitching half his games in Toronto.

That’s not to say that he won’t allow a few more home runs, that’s almost inevitable as he routinely faces the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, but it’s not going to be a significant issue. The fact that he can do that, while also featuring even more upside in his strikeout rate (11.4% SwStr%) and has elite control gives him somewhat of the total package.

That said the luck metrics do scream of at least a little bit of a regression:

  • BABIP – .278 overall, though his first half Hard% of 37.8% (34.2% overall) gives a small concern
  • Strand Rate – 82.2%, a mark that is nearly a lock to regress

None of that creates huge negatives for a player who should continue to be a solid option. Of course there’s the risk of a further regression, with the move to the AL East against more difficult lineups, while he also has a history of injuries and could struggle to get wins.

When you value him think of him more as a 3.75 ERA/1.15 WHIP type pitcher, not one who is going to replicate the elite marks he posted last season. He’s good, not great, and you shouldn’t pay the price that last year’s numbers set for him.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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