If any Los Angeles Dodgers fans have concerns about ace Clayton Kershaw’s absence due to injury, the reemergence of Korean lefty Hyun-jin Ryu should put them to rest.
The portly southpaw was outstanding in his team’s 8-0 victory over the New York Mets last night, tossing seven shutout innings while giving up just one hit and striking out eight. He issued no walks and lowered his ERA to 3.53 on the season.
Ryu has gone just 4-6 in 16 starts this year, but he is looking more like the pitcher he was when he debuted in 2013. If he can keep up his strong outings, especially after posting a 0.94 ERA in his last three starts, then the Los Angeles Dodgers will be even more of a juggernaut than they are already.
The road back
Nobody expected Ryu to be much of a factor for the Dodgers in 2017. Entering his age 30 season, he had made just one start in the past two years due to shoulder and elbow surgeries. His future with the team was cloudy, especially with two years remaining on his $36 million contract.
His season got off to a difficult start. Ryu lost his first four starts of the season before finally picking up the win in his fifth. A May report from Andy McCullough of The Los Angeles Times suggested that Ryu could be moved to the bullpen due to his inconsistent play, which would have been a logical decision given the Dodgers’ bevy of pitching.
But Ryu remained in the rotation and instead received extended rest, coming out of the bullpen just once. It was on May 25 against the St. Louis Cardinals and he worked four innings in relief of Kenta Maeda, picking up the save in a 7-3 victory.
Stacked postseason pitching
At this rate, it’s hard to see a Dodgers postseason pitching staff without Ryu. The only reason not to include him on the postseason roster would be if he struggles from his next start until season’s end, and even the odds of that seem unlikely. His BABIP may be high at .308 and his ground ball rate is only 46.7%, but he still has 14 consecutive scoreless innings through his last two starts.
That may be an outlier, but Ryu is still running hot and making himself stand out amongst the rest of the Dodgers’ arms.
On top of Ryu, not to mention Clayton Kershaw when he returns from injury, here is who the Dodgers could have in their starting rotation for the playoffs: Alex Wood (13-1, 2.33 ERA), Rich Hill (8-4, 3.47), and Kenta Maeda (10-4, 3.79).
They have also added Yu Darvish, who tossed seven shutout innings in his Dodgers debut this past Friday.
The Dodgers have the unique luxury of having too much pitching heading into the postseason, with Ryu being the most recent star in that department.
Given how Ryu and the rest of the Dodgers staff have been performing lately, it’s hard to see Los Angeles not going deep into the postseason this year.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?