Joe Ryan is finally turning into an ace for the Twins at the exact right time

His star turn couldn't be coming at a better time given the struggles elsewhere in the starting rotation.
Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins
Kansas City Royals v Minnesota Twins / Matt Krohn/GettyImages

It took three years and a lot of patience, but everyone's Joe Ryan stock is starting to pay off.

Ryan pitched another gem on Monday afternoon, shutting down the Kansas City Royals in a 6-5 win for the Minnesota Twins. It's a victory that helps the team continue it's turnaround as the Twins are 22-11 since starting the season 7-13, and Ryan's star turn as an ace of the pitching staff is a big reason why.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli praised Ryan after Monday's win not only for how he pitched against the Royals but for how he's settled into an elevated role this season.

"It's not just like he's throwing hard," Baldelli said, via the Start Tribune. "He's locating his pitches, he's putting them in great places, and that's a good combination for him."

That's been a theme all year for Ryan, as his fastball has never been better and he's blowing batters away at a clip that suggests he's turned the corner as an ace for the team. That's fantastic news for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it comes amid brutal struggles by the team's lead ace Pablo Lopez.

Ryan was seen as the Robin to Lopez's Batman, but it seems the Twins might have a Superman situation brewing and it's absolutely glorious to watch.

Joe Ryan is finally looking like the ace Minnesota needs him to be

So far this season, through 11 starts, Ryan has a 2.96 ERA and 73-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 67 innings. It's impossible to overstate the leap he's taken and the best place to look for the chart of his development is his fastball velocity over the years.

Seeing his stuff in action this season has been a thing of beauty, and a house of horrors for batters trying to figure him out. Ryan isn't pitching anything overly complex, he's just simply dominating hitters with expert location and sheer overpowering strength.

Lopez has struggled to gain the same footing he had last season when he helped lead the staff alongside Sonny Gray. Minnesota didn't try very hard to bring Gray back this offseason, nor did it seem like he wanted to return, which put extra pressure on Ryan to step up and replace that lost production.

So far he's done exactly that and more.

When the Twins handed Lopez a contract extension last season it set up a timeline where he and Ryan would be leading the pitching staff as dominant aces for the next few seasons. Both guys are under contract until 2028 which makes this star turn by Ryan even sweeter.

Lopez will eventually figure things out, and when he does the Twins will have a pair of pitchers who could carry the team not only out of the darkness this season but into an incredibly bright future.

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