At 36, Ryu Hyun-jin becomes the oldest Korean big leaguer to start a game, surpassing Park Chan-ho

August 14, 2023 | by

Ryu Hyun-jin (36-Toronto Blue Jays) defies ‘pessimism’ and turns back the win clock after 444 days with solid pitching.

After undergoing the fourth surgery of his career and completing 13 months of rehabilitation, 36-year-old Ryu Hyun-jin has returned to the big leagues as a top pitcher.

With Ryu’s victory clock running again, the title of oldest Korean big leaguer to win a start has shifted from Park Chan-ho to Ryu.

On Thursday (June 14), Hyun-jin Ryu pitched five innings of two-run (unearned) baseball against the Chicago Cubs at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, allowing just two hits and two walks. Utilizing his primary weapon, a changeup, he struck out three.

Toronto snapped a three-game losing streak with an 11-4 victory behind Ryu’s performance.

It was the first time in 444 days that Ryu earned a win in the big leagues since May 27 of last year, when he allowed two runs on six hits in five innings against the Los Angeles Angels.

In 444 days, Ryu increased his career major league win total from 75 to 76 (46-1 with one save).

Ryu, who underwent left elbow ligament reconstruction surgery on June 19 last year, made his big league debut on Aug. 2 against the Baltimore Orioles and earned his first win of the season (1-0) in his third appearance since the surgery.

Born on March 25, 1987, Ryu added another big league start at the age of 36 years, 4 months, and 20 days, breaking the record for the oldest Korean big leaguer.

The previous record was 35 years, 10 months, and 13 days, set by Park Chan-ho, the “first Korean major leaguer,” when he made his first start in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform on May 13, 2009, against the Los Angeles Dodgers (6 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs).

Ryu surpassed Park’s record for the oldest start by about six months.

Park would continue to pitch and add wins on the major league mound until 2010, when he was 37 years old, but all six of his wins after May 13, 2009, were in relief.

Ryu is the third Korean pitcher to win a major league game after the age of 36, joining Park Chan-ho and Oh Seung-hwan.

However, Ryu is the first Korean pitcher to win a start at age 36.

It took Ryu 444 days to increase his big league win total by one, from 75 to 76, but the win clock is likely to run faster from here on out.

After a 17-game road trip, Toronto reorganized its starting rotation from six to five, sending Alec Manoa down to the minors and leaving Ryu as the starter.

Ryu will rotate as one of the “five starters.

Toronto has played 120 of 162 games this season. Ryu is expected to make about eight more starts the rest of the season.

In January of this year, Sports Illustrated (SI) pessimistically predicted that “Ryu, who had surgery in his mid-30s, is unlikely to make a late-season comeback, and if he does, it will be as an ‘opener,’ pitching short innings, or as a ‘bridge guy,’ pitching relatively long innings between the opener and the bullpen.” However, Ryu returned to the mound after three starts.

However, Ryu has returned to being a “full-time starter” and has earned a win in three games. He has also pitched nine innings of no-hit ball in his last two games.

Ryu, who signed a four-year, $80 million deal with Toronto in 2020, is out of contract after this season.

If Ryu remains “big league-competitive” in his remaining eight starts, he could remain in the majors in 2024 and continue to hunt for wins.

If Ryu stays in the big leagues next year, he could try to break Chan-ho Park’s record as the oldest Korean big leaguer to win a game 메이저사이트.

In his last big league appearance, on October 2, 2010, Park earned his 124th win, the most by an Asian pitcher, in relief against the Florida Marlins for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Park was 37 years, 3 months, and 2 days old at the time.

If Ryu picks up a win in the big leagues after June 27, 2024, he will etch his name into the record books as the oldest Korean big leaguer to win a game.


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