Joe Ryan helped pitch the United States to the silver medal in the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
On Wednesday night, the 25-year-old right-hander will make his major-league debut as the Minnesota Twins attempt to earn a split of their two-game series against the Chicago Cubs in Minneapolis.
Ryan, obtained from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Nelson Cruz trade on July 22, is rated the Twins’ No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline.
Ryan has made two appearances with Triple-A Saint Paul since returning from Japan and struck out 17 in nine innings while walking two and compiling a 2.00 ERA. In his first start for the Saints against Iowa on Aug. 20, he struck out the first six batters he faced and nine in four innings while allowing one hit and one run.
“We’re looking forward to watching him show up and do his thing,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s been throwing the ball very well. He’s been throwing the ball well all year long, everywhere he’s been.”
Ryan throws four pitches — including a slider, change-up and curve — but it’s his four-seam fastball that has scouts salivating.
“The fastball he brings to the table is a very unique pitch,” Baldelli said. “Hitters just constantly do not get good looks and swings against this pitch. I think that’s obviously his biggest strength, but his other pitches play off that pitch well, and probably play up because of the difficulty of hitting the fastball.”
Baldelli didn’t put a pitch count on Ryan.
“I think Joe is feeling good physically,” he said. “I think he’s in a good place mentally from everything I’m hearing, and he is able to give us a start that would be a typically good start for him.
“We thought it made sense for him to come into Target Field, get settled in and make his first start. It just made sense to do it this day.”
Chicago will counter with left-hander Justin Steele (2-2, 4.15 ERA), who will face the Twins for the first time while making his fourth career start.
Steele’s last start came Aug. 25 in a 13-10 loss to Colorado in 10 innings. He allowed four runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings.
Chicago received strong pitching performances from Zach Davies, Manuel Rodriguez, Codi Heuer, Adam Morgan and Rowan Wick in a 3-1 win in the series opener on Tuesday. The Twins finished just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, grounded into two double plays and managed just one extra-base hit — a first-inning double by Luis Arraez.
“Hopefully this is kind of the start for us (heading into) September,” Davies said. “To string some games like this together, and everybody enjoy it with success coming from all sides of the ball.”
Frank Schwindel and Ian Happ homered and Robinson Chirinos had an RBI triple to lead the Cubs offensively.
“You know, it’s a new team,” Davies said. “It’s a bunch of new guys together who are starting to settle in and get comfortable and play well and mesh with each other.”
–Field Level Media