The Blue Jays released Ryan on Wednesday, despite still owing their former closer a huge chunk of a $47 million contract that runs through 2010.
What went wrong with Ryan, a left-handed bulldog who saved 74 games and made two All-Star teams from 2005-06, and had 32 saves as recently as 2008?
Loss of health and command.
Ryan, 33, had Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on his left arm in 2007 and, despite the big save total in '08, experienced a continuing drop in strikeout rate. He pitched through arm soreness last season and had upper back problems early this season, losing his closer job to Scott Downs(notes) in April.
Upon returning in May, Ryan lacked control, walking 17 in 20 1/3 innings. His velocity was down, too; the 6-foot-6, 260-pound left-hander was throwing 86-mph fastballs in his last game with the Blue Jays, on Sunday against the Yankees.
Ryan complained part of his problem was a lack of use. His appearance against the Yankees was only his third in two weeks. Before that, however, manager Cito Gaston never went more than three days without using him.
"It's been hard to find spots for him to pitch," Gaston said Tuesday.
Ryan said Monday it seemed obvious that Gaston had lost confidence in him.
"It's frustrating when you sit and you wait to pitch and you get in there and you don't do good," Ryan said. "It's tough. You kind of find yourself in that same circle. You sit for four or five days and you get out there and you want to make pitches and you don't."
Now, Ryan hopes someone in baseball will give him another shot. Being left-handed, and with the Jays paying the freight, it's a safe bet someone will.