Toronto Blue Jays Ryu Hyun-jin was a power pitcher in the KBO, throwing fastballs around 150km during the Hanwha Eagles days.
Even in the early days of joining the Los Angeles Dodgers, he threw a fastball of over 150km, or 93.2 miles, without difficulty. According to Statcast, Hyunjin Ryu’s four-seam fastball average velocity was 91.1 mph in 2013 and 91.4 mph in 2014, his debut season. His highest velocity was a four-seam he threw to Josh Hamilton in the bottom of the 6th against the Los Angeles Angels on August 8, 2014, recording 95.7 mph. 스포츠토토
During those two seasons, out of 2,874 four-seam and two-seam throws by Ryu Hyun-jin, 335 of them were 93.2 mph or higher, or 11.7 percent. In 2014, the average fastball speed of all major league pitchers was 92.4 miles, so it was only 1 mile away from Ryu Hyun-jin’s.
Ryu Hyun-jin’s speed has declined dramatically since he underwent shoulder surgery in May 2015. His average velocity, which fell below 91 mph in 2016, was 90.7 mph in 2019, before dropping to the 80s in 2020. He was 89.8 miles in 2020, 89.9 miles in 2021 and 89.3 miles in 2022. And last June, I had Tommy John surgery.
Rehabilitating at a camp in Dunedin, Florida, Hyun-Jin Ryu is left alone when his teammates leave for the season opener two days later. His rehabilitation is originally a battle with himself, but it can be more difficult for him alone.
However, the rehabilitation schedule is fixed. He is scheduled to start bullpen pitching from April, and if the progress is good, he will be able to start pitching after mid-May. He has to digest 4-5 minor league rehab pitches. The target time to return is mid-July, that is, the second half.
Of course, the important thing in Ryu Hyun-jin’s rehabilitation is building a perfect body, but even that is a process to regain her restraint. Her restraints can also be raised only when her body is intact. Without restoring her restraints, it is difficult to regain her former ace power. Even if she only recovers about 90.7 miles from 2019, when she competed for the National League Cy Young Award, it is a success. She is up 1.4 miles from redemption right before surgery.
Notably, nearly half of pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery report an increase in velocity. You can also expect this from Ryu Hyun-jin. He can’t say for sure, but if his elbow muscles and ligaments are strengthened, and he throws freely without worrying about a part of his heart, there is a good chance that his velocity will be faster.
There is no need to look for a pitcher who has undergone the surgery and has improved speed. Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) averaged 96.7 mph before undergoing this surgery in October 2018. Shortly after his surgery, it decreased to 93.8 miles in 2020, then recovered to 95.6 miles in 2021, and last year 97.3 miles, the highest since entering the major leagues.
Justin Verlander (New York Mets) has also come back this year from 94.9 mph before undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2020, and is slightly faster at 95.0 mph. Verlander won the Cy Young Award for the third time in his career last year, and Ohtani threw 166 innings last year and finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.
The key task is to improve speed. Ryu Hyun-jin has six repertoires. After 2021, four-seam, change-up, cutter, and curve are the main pitches, and sliders and two-seams are rarely thrown. It is a selection and concentration strategy, but it remains to be seen whether he will return in the second half of this year and make changes to his repertoire. What is important, however, is restraint. The lost 1.4 miles must be regained.