Ryu finishes 3rd in AL Cy Young voting

November 11th, 2020

TORONTO -- finished third in the voting for the BBWAA’s American League Cy Young Award on Wednesday, live on MLB Network, which recognized an excellent first season for the Blue Jays' ace.

Cleveland’s Shane Bieber was the unanimous winner, earning all 30 first-place votes after an incredible 2020 season, while Ryu earned four second-place votes to finish behind Kenta Maeda of the Twins. Trevor Bauer took home the Cy Young Award in the National League.

On Tuesday, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo also finished third in the BBWAA voting for the AL Manager of the Year Award, with Tampa Bay's Kevin Cash taking home the hardware.

Signing Ryu to a four-year, $80 million deal last offseason signaled a clear shift by the Blue Jays from developing talent to competing for the postseason. The front office, led by Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins, had long referenced a time where the club would be ready to make “the jump” toward contending, and while their impressive pipeline of prospects fueled that, Ryu’s arrival was the beacon

It all started with a great first impression, when Ryu stepped onto the podium at Rogers Centre last December and greeted the room with, "Hello, Canada. Bonjour" -- and it’s only gotten better from there.

Ryu was exactly as advertised in his age-33 season, posting a 2.69 ERA over 12 starts, including a win over the Yankees in his final start of the regular season, which clinched the Blue Jays' first postseason berth since 2016. His lone postseason appearance in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series didn’t go as planned, but his track record of success gives the Blue Jays plenty of confidence moving forward.

“His ability to command the ball so exceptionally well, get outs at every quadrant of the zone with four different pitches, insane athleticism and his ability on the field, it was something exceptional to watch,” Atkins said at the time of Ryu's signing.

An ace is always important, but Ryu’s value to the Blue Jays was further elevated in 2020, as they dealt with a string of injuries and inconsistent performances from the rotation around him. Ryu tended to be the starter who could stop a skid or extend a winning streak, and the example he set for the young pitchers on Toronto’s roster did not go unnoticed.

This was also a luxury for Montoyo, who followed most of Ryu’s outings by saying, simply: "That’s what an ace does." The Blue Jays still have work left to do on their rotation entering 2021, but this is starting to look like a much more consistent group, which follows Ryu’s lead.

Now, the Blue Jays hope they can see what Ryu is capable of over a full 162-game season. It did take Ryu a little extra time to find the top end of his velocity earlier in the season, as he worked back from the layoff. But once he was working with his full arsenal, Ryu’s elite changeup had hitters completely off balance.

This was Ryu’s second time as a Cy Young Award finalist. He was the runner-up in the National League in 2019 to the Mets' Jacob deGrom.