B. J. Ryan
Ryan with the Toronto Blue Jays
|Born: December 28, 1975|
Bossier City, Louisiana
|July 29, 1999, for the Cincinnati Reds|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 5, 2009, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Earned run average||3.37|
|Career highlights and awards|
Ryan started his career as a left-handed specialist. His inability to command his pitches, combined with a history of difficulty facing right-handed batters, prevented him from acquiring a larger role in the bullpen. However, his eccentric, three-quarter, slingshot-like delivery made him a dominant force against left-handed batters.
On May 1, 2003, Ryan logged an unusual accomplishment: he won a game without throwing a pitch. Ryan's first throw was to first base where he picked off Detroit Tigers' Omar Infante to end the inning. The Orioles took the lead in the next half-inning and Ryan was relieved to begin the half-inning after that.
During his prime, Ryan was able to not only control his pitches, but also add tailing movement to his low-90s fastball. This movement, combined with his devastating slider, helped his success rate against right-handed batters. During his years with Baltimore, he translated this success into a larger role in the Orioles' bullpen. By the middle of 2004, he secured the primary setup role. By the end of the year, he took Jorge Julio's job as the closer.
Ryan became one of the most coveted free agents in Major League Baseball during the 2005 off-season. After considering an offer to rejoin the Orioles, as well as visiting with other potential suitors such as the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees, Ryan signed a 5-year, $47-million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on November 28, 2005. At the time, that was the largest contract for a reliever in Major League Baseball history, surpassing Mariano Rivera's 4-year, $40-million deal with the Yankees from 2001–2004.
On July 3, 2006 it was announced that Ryan would make his second All-Star Game appearance when he was one of five Toronto Blue Jays players selected for the American League All-Star Team. During the 2006 All-Star Game held on July 10 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Ryan pitched the scoreless eighth inning and earned the win for the American League. He finished the year with a career-high 38 saves, ranking third in the league behind Francisco Rodriguez of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Bobby Jenks of the Chicago White Sox.
On May 10, 2007, The Toronto Blue Jays announced that Ryan underwent Tommy John surgery in his left elbow and would be out for the remainder of the 2007 season. Ryan's place in the bullpen was taken by Jeremy Accardo and Casey Janssen, with Accardo making the league minimum salary.
On the morning of April 13, 2008, less than one year removed from Tommy John surgery, B.J. Ryan was activated from the disabled list. Later that afternoon, he entered the game in the 10th inning, and picked up his first save in over one year.
Despite his arm not being fully healed and his slider's reduced effectiveness, he still managed to save an impressive 32 games for the Jays, good enough to place 6th on the AL list of top saves by closers. He was also nominated for the DHL Delivery Man of the Year Award. From his return to around a month later, he had an average ERA under 1.00.
Despite eight years of solid health, some have criticized Ryan's mechanics as making him significantly more susceptible to injury.
Ryan got off to slow start to the 2009 season due to his significant drop in velocity, which limited his effectiveness. On April 23, Ryan was placed on the 15-day DL with problems in his throwing shoulder, more specifically a strained trapezius muscle. When he was activated from the DL, he was used as a middle reliever. The closing job went to Scott Downs.
On July 8, 2009, Ryan was released by the Blue Jays. At the time of his release, the Blue Jays were still responsible for the roughly $5 million remaining on his contract for the remainder of 2009, as well as the $10 million he was owed for 2010. Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi was widely criticized for the Ryan contract.
On July 16, 2009, eight days after being released by the Blue Jays, the Chicago Cubs came to an agreement with Ryan. After working out at the Cubs' Arizona Spring Training facility, he was assigned to their AAA affiliate, the Iowa Cubs. He felt that his velocity would not get any higher, so he asked for his unconditional release, which was granted on August 5, 2009.
- Press Release (2007). "Ryan has successful surgery". BlueJays.com. Archived from the original on 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- O'Leary, Chris (15 January 2008). "BJ Ryan: The Worst Timing In The World". Archived from the original on 2009-06-13. Retrieved 19 June 2009.
- Greene, Ryan (April 28, 2008). "51s Notebook: Call-ups have mixed results so far". Retrieved December 30, 2012.