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Kikuchi and Ryu switched batting order, Ryu to start Oct. 1 vs. TB…Toronto loses faith in fierce PS race

Toronto Blue Jays’ Hyun-jin Ryu, 36, has had his start pushed back a day.

“Yusei Kikuchi will start against Tampa Bay on June 30,” Canadian media outlet Sportsnet reported on June 29. Hyun-jin Ryu’s start has been pushed back to the second game.”

Toronto has used a starting rotation of Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Kikuchi this season. Heading into the final three-game series of the season against Tampa Bay, however, the Jays decided to switch the order between Ryu and Kikuchi. Kikuchi had one day of rest since his last start, so he would be available on four days’ rest. Ryu will pitch on six days’ rest.

Toronto’s decision to switch Ryu and Kikuchi’s starting order was based on the tight American League Wild Card race. Toronto is in the second wild-card spot with an 88-71 record this season. While the Jays are in a strong position to make the postseason, they are not guaranteed a spot until the very end. They are only one game behind third-place Houston (87 wins and 72 losses) and two games behind fourth-place Seattle (86 wins and 73 losses). The final three games could easily change the standings.

That’s why Toronto gave Kikuchi the first game of a three-game series against Tampa Bay, which is more important than Hyun-jin Ryu, who just returned from injury.

Ryu, who underwent Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament splicing) in June last year, made his comeback start against Baltimore on May 2 (a five-inning, four-run loss), marking his return after nearly 13 months on the disabled list. He has been solid this season, going 3-3 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 games (49 innings).

However, his recent form hasn’t been great. In September, Ryu is 2-2 with a 4.32 ERA in five games (25 innings), including a particularly rough outing against Tampa Bay on Sept. 24 in which he gave up five runs on seven hits (three home runs), three walks, one hit batter, and two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

Ryu also had a bad outing against Tampa Bay in Game 2 of the 2020 Wild Card Series, giving up seven runs (three earned) on eight hits (two homers) with one walk and three strikeouts in 1⅔ innings. Add to that the fact that he hasn’t had much luck against Tampa Bay this season, and it makes sense to move Kikuchi’s start up a day. 레고토토

For now, Toronto will go with Kikuchi-Ryu-Hyun-jin-Gausman for the final three games of the season. However, if they clinch a postseason berth or the second wild-card spot before the season finale, they will likely use Gaussman as the starter for Game 1 of the Wild Card Series and save the season finale for a bullpen day. Given the pitching schedule and the fact that the Wild Card Series will be a best-of-three series, Ryu will not pitch in the Wild Card Series.

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