TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins was in the middle of listing the traits he likes most in Hyun-Jin Ryu — command, a varied arsenal, athleticism — when he turned to the South Korean left-hander sitting to his right and addressed him directly.
“You truly are fun to watch play,” Atkins said to Ryu on Friday during the press conference introducing Toronto’s newest arm. “It’s remarkable what you’ve already accomplished and we very much look forward to the success you’re going to bring to this organization.”
Undoubtedly, Ryu’s a very fun pitcher to watch. At six-foot-three and 255 pounds, he’s an imposing presence on the mound yet one who brings a calm composure to competition. And there’s no arguing that he’s accomplished plenty in his seven-season MLB career. He led baseball with a 2.32 ERA last season, finishing second in National League Cy Young voting. And his 2.71 ERA since the beginning of 2017 ranks fourth among the 115 qualified MLB starters over that span.
But just how much success can Atkins and Blue Jays fans look forward to over the next four years of Ryu’s $80-million deal? That’s the unanswerable question in the wake of the largest free agent pitching contract the franchise has ever awarded, https://www.sportsnet.ca/baseball/mlb/investment-hyun-jin-ryu-sign-changing-times-blue-jays/ and one that will go a long way to determining whether or not the club’s current rebuild is ultimately successful.
“He was going for the Cy Young last year — that tells you everything. We got one of the best pitchers in baseball and we’re going to have a chance to win every time he takes the mound,” said Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo. “He’s going to be our ace.”
That much is certain — but Ryu won’t be a domineering, fastball-heavy ace like the Astros’ Justin Verlander or the Yankees’ Gerrit Cole. Ryu’s change-up is actually his best pitch, and truly one of the best off-speed weapons in the game. It’s also his only plus offering, which is why he threw it more than any other pitch last season.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, Filthy 83mph Changeup…and pic.twitter.com/LI8GRyojPS
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 7, 2019
Meanwhile, the average velocity (90.7 mph) and spin rate (2,084 RPM) on Ryu’s fastball were among the lowest in MLB. Same goes for his cutter. And while his curveball features above-average movement and can generate some swing-and-miss, it isn’t considered a dominant pitch. Ryu isn’t overpowering or out-stuffing anyone.
Rather, he uses sequencing, control and deception to keep hitters off balance and generate soft contact. Think first-pitch curveballs for strikes, change-ups in fastball counts and fastballs with two strikes. He repeats his delivery and maintains his release point exceptionally well, providing few hints as to what’s about to come out of his hand.
Elite command and control of the baseball allow him to manipulate his pitches to move the way he wants on their way to the plate and end up where he wants when they get there. Each of those pitches move differently and at varied rates of speed. That’s where a lot of the soft contact he generates comes from, as he stays off the heart of the plate and keeps the ball away from the barrels of bats.
It’s also why he barely walks anyone, with a 1.3 BB/9 over the past two seasons, the lowest of any MLB starter (minimum of 150 innings) by a significant margin. Ryu just pounds the edges of the zone while his catchers mix and match his offerings well enough to prevent hitters from picking up his patterns.
“Obviously, speed is an important factor. But ever since I was young, I’ve focused on pitching as more than just the fastball,” Ryu said through interpreter Tad Yo. “Because if you throw it down the middle, they’re going to hit it.”
It all makes him awfully difficult to square up. The average exit velocity Ryu allowed in 2019 (85.3 mph) ranked 15th among the 436 MLB pitchers with at least 100 balls put in play against them. It ranked sixth among the 198 that allowed at least 200. And you can keep pushing him up that leaderboard if you keep increasing the sample, because Ryu was one of only 43 pitchers to allow more than 500 balls in play in 2019.
As strikeouts surged across baseball, Ryu’s K/9 actually decreased from 9.7 in 2018 to 8.0 in 2019. He simply allows a lot of contact and it’s non-negotiable that a team field a skilled, reliable defence behind him, lest ground balls squeak through a leaky infield and line drives not be run down.
Ryu’s 48.4 per cent career ground ball rate at least demonstrates he’s getting the type of contact you want half the time, as the prevalence of the infield shift has increased the rate at which ground balls are converted into outs. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Ryu’s old team, utilized a shift behind him 40 per cent of the time last season, well above the league average of 25.6 per cent.
On the left is how the Dodgers positioned fielders behind Ryu when he faced left-handed hitters, and on the right is how they approached right-handers:
Has anyone mentioned Toronto was a bottom-10 team across the board in 2019 by whichever advanced defensive statistic you prefer? It seems relevant.
Now, the Blue Jays are expecting to be better defensively on the infield in 2020, with a trimmed-down Vladimir Guerrero Jr. potentially featuring more range at third base, while Bo Bichette and Cavan Biggio continue to improve at shortstop and second. But the outfield is still a big question mark, particularly in centre, which was primarily covered by the erratic routes of Teoscar Hernandez in 2019.
Montoyo may have to tailor his lineups to Ryu’s tendencies on the days he pitches, playing Randal Grichuk in centre and the recently-signed Travis Shaw, who’s accumulated 26 DRS as a third baseman since 2015, at third in order to minimize the possibility of a defensive disaster. It likely won’t be the same calibre of defence Ryu was accustomed to with the Dodgers, but it’ll have to do.
Of course, Ryu will have to be on the mound for any of that to matter, and staying healthy enough to compete has been a perpetual struggle since his MLB debut in 2013. He missed time due to foot and back injuries that year, before hitting the injured list twice in 2014 with shoulder and glute ailments. Then, in 2015, Ryu revealed he’d been pitching with a torn labrum in his left shoulder for years, and underwent surgery to address the issue. A year later, when he was finally attempting a return to play, shoulder soreness and a groin issue kept him out even longer.
In July, 2016, Ryu made his first MLB appearance in 22 months. It was also his last for some time, as elbow tendinitis derailed his comeback and ultimately required surgery two months later. In 2017, it was adductor, hip, foot and forearm issues limiting Ryu to 126.2 innings; In 2018, a groin strain kept him to 82.1. From 2014 through 2018, Ryu threw 365.2 MLB innings — or 73.1 per year. Even last season, his healthiest since he was a rookie, Ryu still made two brief trips to the injured list due to groin and neck issues.
Yeah, it’s a lot. And it’s why the Blue Jays are likely expecting something closer to 500 innings from Ryu over the next four season as opposed to 800. Getting 125 innings of elite pitching per season is still worth something, of course. And to the Blue Jays, who ran Ryu through an extensive physical this week, it’s evidently worth $20-million per year.
“There is no free agent signing where you’re not sharing some risk. And we feel like we’ve added an incredible talent to the organization and feel like he’s evolved and learned from his transition as a professional and as a Major League Baseball pitcher,” Atkins said. “We’re confident he’s going to continue to do what he needs to do to stay on the field.”
Still, if he does, it’s hard to expect Ryu to post the same numbers this season as he has over the last two. He’s moving to a more difficult division, in a league with a designated hitter batting once every nine instead of a pitcher, to play in a more hitter-friendly ballpark in front of a worse defence. He’s a year older (Ryu will be 33 on opening day) and threw nearly as many innings last season (182.2) as he did in the four that preceded it (213.2). There is a reason Steamer projects him at 2.9 fWAR after he was worth 4.8 in 2019.
But the only Blue Jays pitcher to post a three-win season since 2017 is Marcus Stroman, who doesn’t play for the team anymore. Even when baking in substantial regression to his recent performance, Ryu is a massive rotation upgrade for a team in desperate need of it. Simply put, when he’s healthy and pitching to his ability, Ryu’s among the most effective starters in baseball. And the price to acquire that rare upside is what the Blue Jays paid.
“We just continue to try to make the organization better. And there will be more opportunities like this one. And there have been opportunities that we’ve missed on,” Atkins said. “But we’ll continue to do that. We’re here for one thing and it’s to win. We’re getting closer to those days.”
Browns star Odell Beckham Jr. done for season with torn ACL – Sportsnet.ca
CLEVELAND — Odell Beckham Jr. was in a much better place emotionally and physically. This was going to be the season he changed minds.
He was determined to make 2020 _ and its many obstacles — a special year, re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s best players and lead the Browns back to the playoffs, along with with best friend and teammate Jarvis Landry.
Beckham won’t get the chance.
The star receiver’s second season with Cleveland ended on Monday after an MRI confirmed he sustained a torn left knee ligament in the opening minutes of Sunday’s 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Beckham’s injury is a devastating personal blow and a potentially major setback to the Browns, who are off to their best start since 1994 and eyeing their first post-season appearance in 18 years.
They’ll have to get there without Beckham.
“Obviously, it’s a big loss,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s a huge part of what we do, so now we just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. … I’m sick for Odell.”
The three-time Pro Bowler got hurt when his left leg buckled while he was trying to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips.
An MRI taken Monday in Cleveland confirmed the diagnosis of the torn ACL, an injury that typically requires nine months to one year of recovery time. The team said Beckham will be placed on injured reserve, but Stefanski did not have a timetable on when he will have surgery.
On what became his final play of 2020, Beckham, who was slowed last season by a core muscle injury, was chasing Phillips down the sideline when his leg got twisted awkwardly. He immediately grabbed it, was taken directly to the locker room and didn’t return.
The Browns (5-2) played well without Beckham, who for all his talent hasn’t been able to make a strong connection with Mayfield since arriving in a blockbuster trade from the New York Giants before last season. The three-time Pro Bowler played most of 2019 with an injury that required off-season surgery.
After Beckham went out Sunday, Mayfield completed 21 consecutive passes and threw five TD passes _ matching a franchise record _ as the Browns outlasted Joe Burrow and the Bengals.
Mayfield was also without injured running back Nick Chubb, tight end Austin Hooper and Landry played with a broken rib. But the third-year QB had one of his best games by making plays with rookie tight end Harrison Bryant (two TDs), Rashard Higgins (six catches) and rookie receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, who entered the game without a catch and grabbed Mayfield’s winning TD pass with 11 seconds left
Cleveland, which hasn’t made the post-season since 2002, will have to go the rest of the way without Beckham, who turns 28 on Nov. 5. He had 23 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns this season and scored on a 50-yard touchdown run.
Beckham’s presence alone made defences account for him on every snap.
“Odell, the energy he brings to practice, the energy he brings to games. No one else is going to be able to bring that type of juice,” Stefanski said. “But it’s our job to find the guys that can go compete and we’ll put them in spots where they can succeed and think we’ll be able to do that.
“It’s not easy. I don’t want to have to do it and I’m very disappointed for Odell, but that’s the nature of this beast. Injuries are part of this thing and that doesn’t mean any of us have to like it, but we do have to deal with it.”
While Beckham had continued to make some headlines with off-the-field antics, he had been emerging as a leader on the Browns. He was healthier than he had been in several years and showing some of the breakaway speed that made him so dangerous with the Giants.
The torn ACL is the latest injury for Beckham, who was the AP’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014 after being drafted with the No. 12 overall pick by New York. He made the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, but was limited to four games in 2017 with a broken ankle and 12 games in 2018 with a bruised quadriceps.
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap offers house for sale after loss to Browns, fight with coach – Yahoo Canada Sports
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Carlos Dunlap appears to be done with the Cincinnati Bengals.” data-reactid=”12″>Carlos Dunlap appears to be done with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The two-time Pro Bowl defensive end has spent his entire 11-season career with the Bengals, but seemed to reach his breaking point with the franchise on Sunday.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Bengals lost a tight game to the rival Cleveland Browns as quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns against the Cincinnati defense.” data-reactid=”14″>The Bengals lost a tight game to the rival Cleveland Browns as quarterback Baker Mayfield threw for five touchdowns against the Cincinnati defense.
As time wound down, cameras caught Dunlap in a sideline argument with the coaching staff.
Dunlap: ‘I don’t got time for this’
Dunlap lost his starting job earlier this season and wrote, via Instagram on Saturday “I don’t got time for this” alongside a whiteboard image of the Bengals depth chart.
That post has since been removed.
House for sale in Cincinnati
The 31-year-old failed to record a tackle in Sunday’s loss. Immediately after the game, he announced on Twitter that his house is for sale. “Serious inquiries only.” They read:
~6000 sqft city view with huge balcony. 4 bedroom. 4.5 bathroom. In one of the best school districts for sale. Do your market analysis and make me offer. Serious inquiries only with proof of funds!
Owner is willing to sell furnished or unfurnished!
— Carlos Dunlap (@Carlos_Dunlap) October 25, 2020
The tweets have since been deleted.
The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 3. Dunlap is making clear that he wants to be a part of it.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”38″>More from Yahoo Sports:
Prediction: New York Jets vs Buffalo Bills NFL Picks 10/25/20 Odds – Sports Chat Place
Buffalo Bills (4-2) at New York Jets (0-6)
NFL Football: Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 1:00 pm (MetLife Stadium)
The Line: New York Jets +10 — Over/Under: 48
Click Here for the Latest Odds
The Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets meet in a week 7 AFC East division matchup in NFL action from MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Buffalo Bills will try to rebound from back-to-back losses after a 26-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night football. In the loss to Kansas City, Josh Allen threw for 122 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception on 14 of 27 passing, by far his least productive passing game of the year as it was Allen’s first game without at least 24 pass completions. Allen also led the Bills with 42 rushing yards while Devin Singletary and Zack Moss combined for 42 rushing yards as well. Stefon Diggs led Buffalo’s receiving group with 6 grabs for 46 yards and a touchdown while Cole Beasley had 4 receptions for 45 yards and a score. On defense, Tremaine Edmunds led the Bills with 12 total tackles while Jordan Poyer had 10 total tackles with a team-high 9 solo tackles.
The New York Jets will look to pick up their first win of the season after falling to the Miami Dolphins by a final score of 24-0 last time out, stepping back to 0-6. Sam Darnold has thrown for 792 yards, 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions but is currently dealing with an injury, leaving Joe Flacco to throw for 397 yards, a touchdown and a pick on 51.9% passing. Frank Gore leads the Jets in rushing with 250 rushing yards while Jamison Crowder has a team-high 29 grabs on 48 targets for 383 yards and a pair of TDs. Braxton Berrios has 141 receiving yards with a. pair of TDs as well and Chris Hogan and Jeff Smith each have 100+ receiving yards for the Jets this season. Defensively, Neville Hewitt leads New York with 46 total tackles including 26 solo tackles while Avery Williamson has 27 solo tackles. Marcus Maye and Quinnen Williams each have a pair of sacks while Pierre Desir has 26 solo tackles with a team-high 3 interceptions and Brian Poole has a team-high 28 solo tackles with a pair of picks.
Buffalo is 1-3-1 Against the Spread in their last 5 road games and 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a favorite while the under is 4-0 in their last 4 games following a loss. New York is 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 division games while the under is 4-1 in their last 5 games against a team with a winning record. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings between these two teams.
I get that the Bills are playing on a short week, but the New York Jets have been an absolute joke of a football team so far this season. I mean the majority of their losses have come by double-digits and the Jets aren’t just 0-6 SU, they’re 0-6 against the number as well this year. I just think things will get worse for the Jets before they get better, so I’ll lay the points with Buffalo on the road here by default.
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