General managers love the 78-win lefty’s ‘underachievement’

“I’m surprised the Pirates haven’t signed him yet.”

The Major League Baseball Winter Meetings are this week. MLB.com reported on Wednesday that one thing the Pittsburgh Pirates need to do at the Winter Meetings is sign or select a veteran starting pitcher. The rebuilding Pittsburgh team has no stability in its starting rotation.

Pittsburgh ranked 11th in the National League this season with a team ERA of 4.60 and 11th in the National League with a starting ERA of 4.88. Outside of Mitch Keller with 13 wins, the Pirates didn’t have a single 10-win pitcher, and no Pittsburgh starter with a sub-3 ERA in regulation innings pitched this season.

Pittsburgh is looking to a veteran starter to anchor its starting rotation. Ryu has been linked to a few times already this offseason. Rum Bunter, who covers Pittsburgh for FanSided, mentioned Ryu again on July 3.

Rum Bunter said that Wade Miley is a pitcher that general manager Ben Charrington likes, and I’m surprised Pittsburgh hasn’t signed him yet. I think the same goes for Hyun-jin Ryu, another smooth lefty, and I’m shocked Pittsburgh hasn’t kicked the tires yet.”

In other words, Pittsburgh should have approached free agent Hyun-jin Ryu, and we’ll see how things go at the Winter Meetings. Ryu has already been a pillar of a rebuilding program with the Toronto Blue Jays. Of course, that would require Ryu to stay healthy.

As Rum Bunter explains, “Ryu has only pitched 50⅔ innings this season, but he’s been decent with a 3.46 ERA, 4.91 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP. He struck out just 17% of batters and walked an impressive 6.3%, but his 1.29 home runs per nine innings gave him some trouble.”

“Ryu averaged 87.8 mph on his four-seam fastball, allowed a 7.6% barrel hit rate, and had a 16.4% home run/ground ball rate, 4.4% higher than his career average,” Rum Bunter wrote. Basically, he has good command, but his pitches aren’t overpowering, so he’s a long ball risk if he struggles.

Still, Ryu came back healthy from Tommy John surgery and rehab this year, and he has room to improve both his velocity and his stuff next year. He said as much in his homecoming interview this season. It remains to be seen if Pittsburgh is the team that really values Ryu. In fact, if Ryu goes to Pittsburgh, he could be a great fit with Bae Ji-hwan.

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