Blue Jays Notes: Ryu, Hernandez, Borucki

The Blue Jays currently have seven players on the injured list and Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic provides updates on each of them. (Twitter links) Hyun Jin Ryu will make a rehab start for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons this Saturday as he begins to work his way back to the mound. He was only able to make two starts this year before elbow inflammation landed him on the injured list.

The rotation has fared well in his absence, with Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah and Jose Berrios providing excellent innings at the front end. Berrios had a disastrous start in the season opener where he allowed four earned runs and only recorded a single out. However, he’s been able to correct course since then, recording a 2.66 ERA over his next four appearances. Manoah’s ERA is sitting at 1.44 on the year while Gausman’s is at 2.27, the latter not allowing a walk yet in 31 2/3 innings.

Ross Stripling has also carried himself well so far this year, putting up an ERA of 3.79, starting the year as the bullpen’s long man and then stepping up to take over Ryu’s starts in recent weeks. Yusei Kikuchi has been the weakest link so far, with a 5.52 ERA in four starts, including an alarming 18.1% walk rate. Ryu began his Blue Jays tenure with an excellent showing in 2020, logging a 2.69 ERA and 26.2% strikeout rate in the shortened campaign. He couldn’t quite sustain that into 2021, though, with his ERA swelling to 4.37 and his strikeout rate dimming to 20.4%.

Also going on a rehab assignment is outfielder Teoscar Hernandez, who landed on the IL after just six games this year due to an oblique strain. Somewhat overshadowed in the hype surrounding youngsters like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, Hernandez has somewhat quietly emerged as an excellent hitter over the past few years. Since the start of the 2020 campaign, he’s hit .295/.347/.538, with his 136 wRC+ in that time ranking him 15th among qualified hitters, just ahead of guys like Matt Olson and Mookie Betts. His absence has opened up more playing time for Bradley Zimmer, who’s slashing .067/.125/.167 on the year. The return of Teoscar will unquestionably give a boost to the lineup.

Reliever Ryan Borucki is also making his way back, as he is set to throw live batting practice soon. The southpaw began the season on the injured list with a hamstring strain, before returning to the club and making a pair of scoreless appearances. However, he then went back on the IL with a blister. After transitioning from the rotation to the bullpen, Borucki seemed to emerge as a weapon in 2020. In 16 2/3 innings on the shortened season, he logged a 2.70 ERA with a 28.8% strikeout rate, though with a concerning 16.4% walk rate. He reduced that to 11.2% in 2021 but also saw his strikeouts dip to 21.4% and his ERA jump to 4.94. Now out of options, the 28-year-old will have to produce to hold onto his spot on the team. Rosters were just shrunk today, going from 28 to 26, along with a 14-pitcher limit that lasts until May 29, with the limit squeezing to 13 after that.

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