Ryu Hyun-jin’s ‘bad news’, his best catcher diagnosed with a fractured finger → It is unclear whether he will participate in the remaining season
‘Monster’ Ryu Hyun-jin (Toronto Blue Jays), who has continued to pitch well after returning from injury, has faced bad news that is not bad news. This is because his best friend will not be able to come out for a while.
Major League Baseball (MLB) official website MLB.com and Canadian media outlet Sportsnet reported on the 2nd (Korean time) that “Jansen, who was hit in the finger by a foul ball, was diagnosed with a fracture of the middle finger of his right hand.”
Jansen played as the team’s fifth hitter and catcher in the 2023 Major League away game against the Colorado Rockies held at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado, USA, and formed a battery with Ryu Hyun-jin, who was the starting pitcher that day. Jansen, who showed good chemistry, hit a two-run home run to left in the top of the 6th inning when the score was 2-2, giving Ryu Hyun-jin the winning pitcher requirement.
However, the very next inning, Jansen was injured. After Ryu Hyun-jin went down in the bottom of the 6th inning, with 2 outs and runners on first and second base, Toronto brought in left-handed pitcher Henesis Cabrera to face left-handed hitter Brandon Rogers. However, the second foul ball ended up hitting Jansen’s right hand. Jansen complained of pain and came out of the bench to check his condition.
In the end, Jansen ended the game after being replaced by pinch hitter Alejandro Kirk at the plate in the top of the 7th inning. According to Sportsnet, after the game, Toronto coach John Schneider said, “Jansen fractured the bone in the middle finger joint of his right hand.” Toronto plans to call up catcher Tyler Heinemann, who spent four seasons in the big leagues, to replace Jansen.
Jansen’s absence is obviously not good for Toronto. Jansen, who showed good defense after his debut in 2018, also showed off his batting ability, posting a batting average of 0.260, 15 home runs, 44 RBI, and an OPS of 0.855 in 72 games last year. He then set a career high this year by hitting 17 home runs in 86 games. He was highly rated, ranking 9th in MLB Network’s catcher rankings ahead of this season.
In particular, it can be said to be a big gap for ‘best friend’ Ryu Hyun-jin. He has appeared in 181 big league games up to this time, and has worked with Jansen in 41 games, the same as AJ Ellis, who was the exclusive catcher during his time with the LA Dodgers. He also showed respectable career performance with an average ERA of 3.47 over 215⅓ innings. It is even more meaningful in that his performance in Toronto was declining somewhat after peaking during his time with the Dodgers.
In particular, Ryu Hyun-jin, who formed a battery with as many as nine catchers during his time with the Dodgers, has been working almost exclusively with Jansen since moving to Toronto. Liz Maguire (11 games, 60⅔ innings), who played in the most games after Jansen, left the team ahead of the 2022 season, and Kirk, who is likely to become a starter after Jansen’s injury, played in only one game (4 innings) last year. I just got it right.
Ryu Hyun-jin has 3 wins, 1 loss, and an average ERA of 2.48 in 6 games this season. After undergoing Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament fusion surgery) in June of last year, he made a comeback in a home game against the Baltimore Orioles on the 2nd of last month after a year of rehabilitation. He overcame defensive errors and bullpen troubles and has won three games in a row since losing in his return game.
In his most recent appearance against Colorado on the 2nd, Ryu Hyun-jin threw 76 pitches in 5 innings, allowing 4 hits (1 home run), 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, and 2 runs. Although he overcame a mistrial and met the requirements for a winning pitcher, he was unable to record a starting win after Cabrera hit a come-from-behind 3-run home run by Rogers in the bottom of the 6th inning right after Jansen was injured. However, the team won 13-9 and is on a 5-game winning streak with Ryu Hyun-jin taking the mound.
Ryu Hyun-jin, who is playing well like this, is expected to be used as an important card in the team’s postseason. However, if Jansen’s condition is serious, it is expected that he will not be able to play for the rest of the season, or even the post-season at worst. If this happens, Ryu Hyun-jin will have to work with new catchers again. This is why attention is being paid to Jansen’s condition.