Toronto’s starting rotation has changed from when Ryu Hyun-jin, 36, first donned a Toronto uniform. None of the players who rotated with Ryu in the first game of the 2020 season remain. Instead, players from outside the organization have filled the void.
And they spent a lot of money in the process. The batting lineup was rebuilt, so the plan was to buy and use starters, but it didn’t work out. Every pitcher has been up and down. It was once considered the best starting rotation in the American League East, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would say that about Toronto’s starting rotation right now.
Hence the trade rumors. The gist of the rumors was that the Jays were looking to add another solid pitcher to anchor their starting rotation.
In mid-July, Toronto general manager Ross Atkins played down the rumors, saying, “Every team in contention is trying to add some depth to their starting rotation.” The market was competitive. The implication was that the competition is fierce. It was obvious that to win the race, you had to put more cards on the table. That’s why Toronto didn’t jump into the trade market right away.
On the one hand, Atkins had faith. They had a rotation of basically good players. There was reason to hope for a rebound. Alec Manoa, who was completely off-balance and had spent time in a minor league facility, was getting better.
Add to that the return of Ryu Hyun-jin, who underwent Tommy John surgery to repair his elbow ligaments last June and rehabbed for more than a year. In fact, this was the most important thing.
Atkins had been following Ryu’s rehabilitation closely since last winter. He reportedly received frequent briefings, and whenever he was able to get away from his busy schedule, he checked in person and asked the trainers for their opinions. Once Atkins was satisfied that Ryu’s rehab was going well, he decided to maximize his utility by going with a six-man rotation for the 17-game series.
Rather than trading for a starter, the team focused on bolstering a bullpen that was shaky outside of Jordan Romo, and made a big splash by acquiring hard-throwing closer Jordan Hicks from the St. Louis Cardinals on July 31.
On the 31st, CBC, a leading Canadian media outlet, reported, “Toronto is set to welcome back Hyun-jin Ryu, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. It will provide a solid boost to the starting rotation,” and “It makes the job of Toronto general manager Ross Atkins easier. 메이저놀이터
Seeing the potential in Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed Atkins to focus on other areas of the organization once the starters were out of the way, which led to the signing of Hicks. Toronto’s trade was not over yet. The Jays are also looking to bolster their offense, Atkins said, and are looking for ways to address their right-handed batting skew.
Atkins’ plan may have been wise. Ryu is back and healthy. Ryu, who is scheduled to return to action on April 2 against Baltimore, threw a final bullpen session before his 30-day DL stint. Manager John Schneider and pitching coach Pete Walker were on hand.