Elbow ligament splicing surgery in his late mid-30s. Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, of the Toronto Blue Jays, is living up to his nickname, “The Monster,” and is back to being one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB). On the field and in the U.S. media, Ryu’s pitching is being rediscovered every day. Ryu, who dominated the MLB with his slow ball and fastball during the “restraint revolution,” is unique in world baseball. In honor of its 54th anniversary, DAILY SPORT explores how Ryu’s special pitches were created. From his talent as a student to the seniors who guided him in the professional arena.
Creating the ‘slow curve’ syndrome
Ryu’s baseball career has been a series of ups and downs. He has been on the operating table four times, starting with a ligament reconstruction in 2004 when he was a sophomore in high school (Dongsan High School in Incheon).
In May 2015, he underwent surgery to repair his labrum in his shoulder, which was a death sentence for the pitcher. But Ryu overcame a 7 percent chance of a comeback.
His pitches have only gotten better. In the 2017 MLB season, Ryu added a cut fastball (cutter) to his arsenal, something he hadn’t thrown before (2013-2016). It curved toward the right-handed batter’s body, and he was able to knock out hitters who were prepared for his “old” changeup.
This year, when Ryu returned from his second surgery after reaching the MLB, he showed a different pitching repertoire. This time, he utilized his curveball. In 2019, when Ryu led the MLB in ERA (2.32), his curveball was his fifth pitch, which he threw only 12.2% of the time. This year, it’s 17.6%.
There’s a difference. His average curveball velocity is slower this season at 68.5 mph (110 km/h), down from 72.7 mph (116.9 km/h) in 2019. His vertical movement (drop), which was 66.1 inches (167.9 cm), is 72.6 inches (184.4 cm) this year.
SSG Landers manager Kim Won-hyung, who had a great curveball as a player, said, “Anyone can make a difference in velocity by throwing it off, but it’s easy for hitters to notice. It’s really amazing to be able to throw it in the 60s and 70s with 100 percent effort. (The slow curve) might be Ryu’s only ability,” he said tongue-in-cheek.
Pitching form perfected at age 12
Today, Ryu’s curveball is practically a new pitch, and just like when he was fitted with the cutter after his shoulder surgery, it’s amazing how quickly he learned the pitch and how accurately he throws it.
Most people talk about a certain release point or innate feel for the pitch. To get to the bottom of it, we spoke to a senior coach who has watched Ryu for years. 메이저사이트
When Ryu was a rookie in the KBO (2006), former Hanwha Eagles manager Kim In-sung recalled, “His velocity was fast, but his delivery wasn’t as good as it is now.”
What Kim noticed was his pitching stance. “In my eyes, it was very good. The fundamentals were solid.” Kim even instructed the pitching staff, “Don’t change Ryu’s pitching form,” he said.