[IS Focus] Ryu Hyun-jin’s Slow Curveball Could Be His Next Cutter

Ryu Hyun-jin (36-Toronto Blue Jays) has been using his curveball to clear the zone. It will be interesting to see if the curveball can evolve into a second cut fastball (cutter).

Hyun-jin Ryu started the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB)바카라 World Series home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on July 27 (KST), allowing four hits (two home runs) and three runs (two earned) over five innings. His velocity and command of his pitches were on full display. Toronto won 8-3, and Ryu won his third straight start, dating back to April 14 against the Chicago Cubs. He is now 3-1 with a 2.25 ERA on the season.

Ryu has been dominating hitters with his 65-66 mph (104.6-106.2 km/h) slower curveball since May 21 against Cincinnati. The drop was greater than before, and the velocity was slower. His curveball averaged 73.9 mph (118.9 km/h) in 2021, his last full season before an elbow injury sidelined him, but it was 68.8 mph (110.7 km/h) against Cincinnati.

Eli De La Cruz, who has been a sensation this season with his hard-hitting fastball and power, was unable to time his swing against the curveball, resulting in a walk and a strikeout, respectively.

Against Cleveland on July 27, the curve was on full display. In the top of the first inning, with the bases loaded, he struck out Oscar Gonzalez with a low 106 mph curveball. He then showed a 124-55 mph changeup and threw a slower curveball to take away his timing.

The opposite combination also worked. Against Gabriel Arias with the bases loaded in the second inning, he showed a six-pitch curveball first, then followed it up with a changeup on a similar trajectory (low to center) to induce a swing.

Against Andres Jimenez with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, he used his first-pitch curveball for a strike, followed by a cutter on the outside (low to lefties) and a 64.6 mph (103.9 km/h) curveball that dipped further outside to elicit an awkward swing. Jimenez tried to control the bat, but the ball moved away from his swing as if it had a will of its own.

Rob Friedman, an expert in analyzing MLB pitches, posted the clip on social media and wrote, “This is the slowest pitch I’ve seen a starting pitcher induce a foul swing on all season. We usually look at a pitcher’s velocity to see ‘how fast’ it is, but with Ryu, we get to see how slow it is.”

In 2017, when Ryu returned from rehabbing shoulder surgery, he added a cutter to his arsenal, turning it into a weapon that rivaled his changeup. His 17.9 percent groundball rate in 2017 increased to 24.4 percent in 2018, making it the second-highest-rated pitch behind his four-seam fastball. In 2019, when he led the MLB in ERA (2.32), he mixed it up with his changeup to great effect.

Once again, Ryu took over a year off. This time, he’s using a different curveball to build a different repertoire than he had before his injury. In 2016, Ryu’s curveball still had plenty of movement, with 70.5 inches (179.07 cm) of horizontal travel, but its average velocity was 69.7 mph (112.2 km/h), not much different from recent seasons. In his last two games, however, his horizontal movement was slightly larger at 70.6 inches (179.324 cm) and his velocity was much slower, in the 65 to 68 mph range. The slower, bigger movement is making it harder for opposing batters to handle.

However, these slower pitches have the potential to turn into long balls if they are caught in the zone. Against Cleveland on July 27, a curveball was hit by Tyler Freeman, who hadn’t hit a home run since his MLB debut.

As Ryu’s slower curveball gets more attention, opposing power analysis will likely intensify. It will be interesting to see if the curveball can become Ryu’s primary weapon like his cutter.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *