With the ink now dry on a brand new $80 million dollar contract, Ryu can turn his attention to throwing more changeups in 2020, as the pitch was very effective. It averages just 80 mph, but hitters were limited to a .194/.212/.298 slash line and Ryu had 51 strikeouts with the pitch. Thrown 27% of the time, Ryu uses the pitch to keep hitters off balance and it works well in combination with the other pitches in his arsenal.
Used just 12.2% of the time primarily as a get-me-over pitch, Ryu’s curveball was surprisingly effective as hitters could only muster a wRC+ of 36 off the pitch. It averages 73 mph, with a big looping spin that freezes many batters, hence the Z-Swing% of only 35.6%. Look for Ryu to increase his curveball usage as a member of the Jays, as it was one of his most effective pitches in 2019.
Ryu’s changeup is a complete Money Pitch – the most chased pitch in baseball last season, a thing of beauty and the reason why he polled 2nd in the NL Cy Young voting. He threw the pitch more than ever before (27.5% of the time), inducing a 56.6 O-Swing %, the best of all SPs. An 18.8 SwStr% contributes to a phenomenal 24.1 vPal. Just wow, this is the reason we watch baseball.
His third above average pitch, Ryu’s cutter is thrown just 19.7% at an average velocity of 87 mph. It comes from the same arm slot as his other pitches, meaning it is difficult to pick up on its glove side break until it is already in on hitters’ hands. Hitters produced a GB% of 47.9% off the pitch compared to a FB% of just 23.4%, meaning it was very difficult for them to get the ball elevated.
An increase in Ryu’s Two-Seamer meant he was a little less reliant on his cutter. It still remains a great third pitch, inducing a 48% groundball rate and contributing to Ryu’s amazing 1.18 BB/9.
Ryu pounded the zone 61.8% of the time with his four-seamer and saw a jump to a 12.1% swinging-strike rate. In short, he was on the attack in 2018 with this one. His K rate was a little inflated at 33.7%, but he cut the home runs on the pitch from 15 to three (granted, on roughly 450 fewer thrown), and he drew an extremely high 36.4% infield fly rate, which speaks to weak contact. That all pulled the pitch from the depths of a -21.6 pVal to a 6.9.
The lefty attacked the zone 55.1% of the time and drew a 52.4% grounder rate while controlling the walks (2.3 BB%). Still, it lost some movement and hitters slugged .452 against it, dropping it to a -1.2 pVal. Despite that, the cutter looks like a decent contact-inducer and secondary way to pick up strikes.
With 23.0% swinging-strike, 49.3% chase, and 34.8 zone rates, this was a near-Money Pitch and Ryu’s primary whiff-inducer. It looked like quite a weapon in 2018.
Ryu’s hook picked up a significant amount of drop but was unimpressive in the swinging-strike and chase departments. Still, he kept hitters off balance with it (.098 ISO) and guided it to a 3.1 pVal as a secondary strike-getter and weak-contact-inducer.
The lefty introduced a secondary fastball in 2018, and it featured below-average horizontal movement over 75 thrown. Still, it carried a 72.7% grounder rate, which can’t be trusted in a small sample but shows promise for when he needs to put the ball on the grass.
Ryu threw so few sliders in 2018 that they’re either misclassified cutters or they were there strictly for the element of surprise. In any case, Ryu moved from a slider to a cutter in 2017, so don’t expect to see the bendier version in 2019.