RYU overcomes aging curve, elbow surgery to become oldest starter in Korean big leagues

It was in April of last year that the ‘aging curve’ came out around Ryu Hyun-jin (36, Toronto Blue Jays). His earned run average was a whopping 13.50 in his opening two games. The average speed of the fastball, which was 145 km per hour, was only 메이저사이트 142 to 143 km. The aging curve is a phenomenon in which athletic ability declines and inevitably declines when a person reaches a certain age. ‘Ryu Hyun-jin is also at that age’ was said.

It’s already on the decline, but the long hiatus overlapped with inevitable injuries. Then, a prospect came out saying, “It is not easy to return, and even if it comes back, it will be difficult to become a starting pitcher.” Left-handed pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin underwent left elbow ligament joint surgery (Tommy John surgery) in June of last year and spent 14 months in a difficult and tedious rehabilitation.

On the 14th (Korean time), a home game against the Chicago Cubs of the Major League Baseball (MLB) was held at the Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada. Ryu Hyun-jin, who became the winning pitcher, said. “I feel like I’m back to where I wanted to be.”

It was his third win since returning earlier this month. Ryu Hyun-jin only got 2 hits in 5 innings. He gave up two runs while giving up two walks and striking out three, but it’s all visa book. With the team winning 11-4, Ryu Hyun-jin won his first win of the season and his first win in 444 days since the win against the Los Angeles Angels in May last year. He also set the record for the oldest starter in the Korean Big League at 36 years, 4 months and 20 days. The previous record was 35 years, 10 months and 13 days, set by Park Chan-ho (then Philadelphia Phillies) in 2009.

Ryu Hyun-jin, who broke the team’s three-game losing streak, also raised hopes for a postseason appearance for the first time in three years. Toronto, with 66 wins and 54 losses, is third in the Eastern Division of the American League, but as a wild card, it is in a position to aim for fall baseball. As the eldest brother on the team prepared the Cubs’ hit line, which topped the MLB in overall scoring in the second half of the last game of ’17 Matches of Hell’, it is only natural that the team’s morale would be boosted. Ryu Hyun-jin, who also stepped on the mound in the World Series during his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, has only appeared in the wild card series that year after moving to Toronto in 2020. Toronto reached the postseason last year, but Ryu Hyun-jin was in the midst of rehabilitation.

Toronto’s Ryu Hyun-jin throws the ball vigorously in the 4th inning. AFP Yonhap News

On the 8th of this month, against the Cleveland Guardians, he suffered the bad luck of being replaced in 4 innings (no runs) after getting his knee hit by an assault ball. In the first inning, with 2 outs and 1st and 2nd base, Dansby Swanson hit a double with 2 RBIs. Ryu Hyun-jin, who sweated by throwing 31 balls in the first inning alone, pitched economically enough to cover 55 pitches in 4 innings. The highest fastball speed was 146.5km. His average was just over 142 km, but he excelled at hitting corners. The falling angle of his main weapon changeup, which he threw 24 times, was unusually sharp. All three strikeouts were changeups.

Ryu Hyun-jin, who said, “Since the last game, all pitches have been good as before,” lowered his ERA to 2.57 (3 games, 1 win, 1 loss). His career record is 76 wins, 1 save and 46 losses.

The Toronto Sun, a local newspaper, said, “Ryu Hyun-jin did the pitching that the team needed very much,” and Toronto coach John Schneider said, “After returning, he showed his old appearance again in three games. It’s not easy to do that at that age, but it seems like an easy task to Ryu Hyun-jin.” Ryu Hyun-jin is expected to be on the starting mound eight more times by the end of the season.