Toronto wants to save Ryu Hyun-jin and Ace Gausman, whose pitch was postponed for a day… In the end, is Kikuchi the choice?

The Toronto Blue Jays adjusted Ryu Hyun-jin’s (36) mound schedule to save ace Kevin Gausman (32). 

Canadian media Sportsnet reported on the 29th (Korean time), “Yusei Kikuchi will be the starting pitcher in the game against Tampa Bay on the 30th. “Ryu Hyun-jin’s appearance in the second game has been postponed.” 

Ryu Hyun-jin underwent Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament fusion surgery) in June of last year, and successfully returned after about 13 months by making his comeback against Baltimore on the 2nd of last month (a 5-inning, 4-run loss). He is having a successful comeback season, recording 3 wins, 3 losses, and an average ERA of 3.31 in 10 games (49 innings) this season.

However, Toronto originally made some adjustments to its starting rotation consisting of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassett, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Kikuchi in the final three games of the season against Tampa Bay. It was decided to postpone Ryu Hyun-jin’s pitching date by a day and have Kikuchi pitching a day earlier. It is interpreted as a strategic move with the fierce American League wild card race and postseason starting rotation in mind. 

Toronto adjusted the pitching schedules for Ryu Hyun-jin and Kikuchi, so Kikuchi, Ryu Hyun-jin, and Gausman will pitch in the final three games. However, Toronto wants to use Gausman in Game 1 of the wild card series if possible. In order to do so, advancement to the postseason must be confirmed before the final game of the season in which Gausman appears. 

Toronto, which is in second place in the wild card with a record of 88 wins and 71 losses this season, is one game ahead of third place wild card Houston (87 wins, 72 losses) and two games ahead of fourth place Seattle (86 wins, 73 losses). It is true that Toronto has an advantage, but the rankings can change in an instant depending on the results of the last three games. Therefore, it is important to confirm advancement to the postseason as quickly as possible. 메이저사이트

Gausman has 12 wins, 9 losses, and an average ERA of 3.16 in 31 games (185 innings) this season. He is Toronto’s most reliable ace. In the wild card series expected to meet Tampa Bay, the best scenario for Toronto is to appoint Gausman as the starting pitcher for Game 1. 

Ryu Hyun-jin, who returned from injury, successfully returned to the major leagues, but his pace has slowed down a bit recently. His performance in September was limited to 5 games (25 innings), 2 losses, and an ERA of 4.32, and in the game against Tampa Bay on the 24th, he struggled with 7 hits (3 home runs), 3 walks, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, and 5 runs in 4⅓ innings. 

Toronto ultimately decided that hiring Kikuchi as a starting pitcher before Ryu Hyun-jin would increase the likelihood of quickly advancing to the postseason. Of course, the role of Ryu Hyun-jin, who appears in the second game of the three-game series, is still important. 

It is highly likely that Ryu Hyun-jin will not pitch in the Wild Card Series, which is played in a best-of-three series. If Gausman can be saved, Toronto is expected to use starting pitchers in the order of Gausman, Berrios, and Bassett in the Wild Card Series. 

In the postseason, only four starting pitchers are needed. According to Toronto’s current starting rotation, Ryu Hyun-jin has entered the 5th starting position, so the possibility of being excluded from the postseason starting lineup cannot be completely ruled out. However, if Toronto advances to the Division Series, there is a possibility that Kikuchi will be used as a reliever and Ryu Hyun-jin will be the starting pitcher. 

In the end, the most important thing is for Ryu Hyun-jin to produce good results in his final appearance of the season against Tampa Bay, scheduled for October 1. Will Ryu Hyun-jin, who has been struggling against Tampa Bay since Game 2 of the 2020 Wild Card Series (a loss with 7 runs and 3 earned runs in 1⅔ innings), shake off bad memories and achieve some kind of success?

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