Want to see him, but can’t?
Ryu Hyun-jin (Toronto Blue Jays) is set to make his third start of the season at home against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday at 2:37 p.m. ET. Ryu was sidelined after being hit in the knee by a batter’s pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning of a road game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sept. 9, but X-rays showed nothing wrong.안전놀이터
When Hyun-jin Ryu takes the mound against the Cubs, there are a couple of special players he’ll face on his way to his first win in a year and two months. First up is Cody Bellinger. After being named National League MVP in 2019 with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bellinger was released as a non-tender after three straight years of decline, and he has resurfaced with the Cubs this year.
Coincidentally, 2019 was the same season that Hyun-jin Ryu led the majors in ERA. Ryu and Bellinger led the Dodgers with a two-hitter, and it will be four years before they face each other for the first time.
Also in the Cubs outfield is Mike Tuckman, who spent the 2022 season with the Hanwha Eagles of the KBO. Tuckman had a dramatic turnaround this season, becoming the Cubs’ main outfielder after not being re-signed by Hanwha. Ryu Hyun-jin and Hanwha have a common denominator.
There’s another connection. The Cubs have one of the best outfielders in Japanese baseball in Seiya Suzuki, 29. Suzuki is in the second season of a five-year, $85 million contract. He was the No. 4 hitter at the 2019 Premier 12 and 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but missed the WBC in March with a side injury.
Suzuki then had one of his worst years this season. In 91 games, he batted .249 with 84 hits in 338 at-bats, nine home runs, 37 RBIs, 41 runs scored, five doubles, a .388 on-base percentage, a .327 slugging percentage and a .715 OPS. That’s down from last year, when he hit .262 with 14 homers, 46 RBIs and a .769 OPS in 111 games.
His second-half slump is particularly egregious. In 20 games, he’s 17-for-79 with a .215 batting average, two home runs, nine RBI, 13 runs scored, and a .605 OPS. In just four games in August, he’s 2-for-13. Hit a home run against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 3, but struggled to get going. He only had one at-bat against the New York Mets on August 8, and missed the Mets game on August 9.
Suzuki is a right-handed hitter, so there’s still a chance he could start against Ryu. However, he’s certainly had a bad recent stretch. Ryu might actually be grateful for Suzuki’s presence. He was unable to face Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) in late July, and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to face Suzuki on Thursday against the Cubs. However, if Suzuki does show up, it will be an intriguing Japanese-Japanese matchup.