Despite Ryu's exit, Blue Jays shut out Rays

Toronto ace leaves in fourth inning with minor glute strain

April 26th, 2021

Blue Jays ace was removed in the fourth inning from Sunday's 1-0 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field with a minor right glute strain, the club announced, but Ryu is optimistic that he's avoided anything serious.

Ryu delivered a changeup to Manuel Margot -- who singled -- then slowly walked to the back of the mound and went into a crouch. When he popped up, he signaled to the dugout, at which point manager Charlie Montoyo and pitching coach Pete Walker came to the mound. Ryu said after the game that something felt "loose" at the time, but was no longer feeling any discomfort a couple of hours later.

“I don’t think it’s an injury, I guess I was less tense than I should have been,” Ryu said. “It’s nothing serious and it’s not something I’ve felt before.”

The Blue Jays will reevaluate Ryu on Monday, but neither he nor Montoyo are expecting him to need a stint on the IL at this time. As is the case with any soft tissue injury, though, the Blue Jays and their medical staff would like to see how he bounces back physically over the next couple of days.

“I’m going to go as I would normally prepare for a game,” Ryu said. “I’ll just work how I normally do with my routine. Just going through what happened today, I might have to go on the mound and have a little side session of 10-15 pitches just to double check and make sure that I’m OK. Starting tomorrow, it’s just a regular day again.”

Ryu got the ball rolling before he left, though, throwing 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball with five strikeouts, and the Blue Jays’ bullpen picked up right where he left off. This group of relievers has been a revolving door with injuries and roles changing, but they’ve found ways to consistently shut down opposing lineups, and Sunday’s win was their best performance to date.

After allowed a pair of hits and recorded an out, a combination of , , and combined to pitch five no-hit innings to close out the win. Dolis picked up his second save in the process, and following a rocky start to his season, the right-hander has turned things around at the right time to look sharp over his recent outings.

“It was awesome. To pitch with no room for error, it was a great game,” Montoyo said. “Of course it was a great win, too, against our division [rival]. We knew that there was no room for error. Everybody had to do their job and they all did. They all did a great job.”

Any potential injury to Ryu, even minor, is worrying for the Blue Jays not only because Ryu is the ace of the rotation, but because of the long list of injuries this staff is already dealing with. Robbie Ray opened the season on the IL, while No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson and right-hander Thomas Hatch are still on the IL from Spring Training. Ross Stripling and T.J. Zeuch have both filled rotation spots early, but they’re on the IL now, too.

Ray’s return and the emergence of Steven Matz in April have helped this rotation, but losing Ryu for any amount of time would stretch the group very thin. Bullpen days have already been adopted to fill holes in the rotation, but the Blue Jays have very little healthy starting depth beyond lefty Anthony Kay, who’s currently at the alternate training site.

The Blue Jays plan to start Trent Thornton in Tuesday’s opener against the Nationals back home in Dunedin, Fla., but the right-hander is still more of a long reliever than a starter right now. A bullpen plan will be in place to follow Thornton, likely with another long reliever like Tommy Milone replacing him. This is never Plan A for the Blue Jays, or any Major League club, but it’s how they’ve had to adapt through a challenging April.

The club will know more about Ryu’s glute strain on Monday, when he begins to go through his regular program, but it would be a major relief for the organization if one of its best pitchers has avoided anything serious, which he believes to be the case.