Joe Ryan Hid Groin Injury From Twins for Seven Brutal Starts

Photo: Jeffrey Becker - USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Twins’ starter, Joe Ryan, was lit up by the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, giving up 9 hits (4 HR) and 7 earned runs, in just 4 innings of work. It’s the only game the Cards offense has scored more than 3 runs during the last two series. But if you’ve been watching Joe’s starts over the past month+, his struggles the other night weren’t surprising.

Ryan has surrendered a mind-boggling 17 home runs while posting a whopping 8.63 ERA over his last seven starts, dating back to his debacle vs the Atlanta Braves on June 27 (6 runs, 9 hits, 5 HR, 3 IP). In that time, hitters are batting .336 against him, with an impossible 1.137 OPS.

Joe Ryan admits to nagging groin injury

He’s all but stopped using his breaking pitches, which have lost accuracy and movement during this rough stretch. And on Thursday, after his brutal start earlier in the week, Joe Ryan finally admitted to the Twins and media members that he has been battling a groin injury that doesn’t allow him to finish or get on top of his breaking balls.

He’d never been injured before and was shocked by the sensation. He noticed it would bother him when sprinting, but also that he could compensate for it. Instead of reporting it, Ryan opted to play catch and take the mound as scheduled. Because the injury only affected him on certain pitches and not on his bread and butter, high fastballs, Ryan thought he could manage.

“I would say it feels like the last six inches of the hips rotating through, it just grabs right there,” Ryan said. “It’s anything when I’m getting that last little bit, getting over the baseball or getting over my front leg, I guess, exacerbates the symptoms. I guess that’s where it just flares up so much. It’s definitely been frustrating for me. Learned a lot, just kind of, pretty quickly here. How many people have my back with the team, just as far as helping me navigate that process, being a new situation for me to tackle. I was trying to do it on my own. Didn’t probably take the best routes to notifying everyone.”

Dan Hayes – The Athletic
Rocco Baldelli reacts to Ryan’s hidden injury

After finding out about Ryan’s injury, the Twins placed him on the Injured List and called Dallas Keuchel up from Triple-A St. Paul. When asked about Ryan’s hidden injury, Rocco Baldelli was clearly agitated with the situation. That’s understandable, given how bad Joe has been over his last seven starts.

Baldelli noted some decline in Joe’s velocity, at times over the last month, along with changes in spin rate and other advanced pitching metrics. But without any admission of injury, Twins brass chalked it up to normal deviation over a 162 game season.

“Until he made that decision, there is nothing that we really could have seen that we would have known. We measure everything. Are his extension numbers out there maybe a little bit off where they normally would be? Yes. But a lot of pitchers go up and down and those types of things. That’s not something that would have put up any flag for us.”

Rocco Baldelli (via The Athletic)

As a competitor, I understand and appreciate Joe Ryan’s determination to push through an injury he thought he could manage. But he should have realized long before Wednesday that his ironman approach was hurting his team, not helping them.

I mean, Ryan knew he wasn’t the best man for the job, given his ailing groin. Yet, he continued to take the mound for multiple starts, which cost his team their best opportunity at claiming victory. It’s one thing to play through an injury, if your availability gives your team a better chance to win. When it became clear that his injury was hurting the Twins’ odds of winning when he pitched, Ryan should have immediately pulled the plug.

Now what…?

But we can’t go back in time and force Joe to disclose his injury sooner so let’s look forward. The Minnesota Twins need a healthy and productive Joe Ryan for their final playoff push next month and as part of their 3-man rotation, should they make the postseason field. The Twins believe Joe’s injured list stint will be short so let’s hope it’s not too late for him to recover and be that guy.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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