Hadouken!!! Hyun-jin Ryu’s Breakout Rookie Season


Ryu slides into home-Jae C. Hong

First reports were that the young man resembled David Wells, in style and in size.  From everything we saw this year, I’d have to say that’s a pretty apt comparison.  Hyun-jin Ryu the Korean star transplant, is a big boy at 6’2” 255, but he has a spry streak that belies his size.  He’s a tough gamer who definitely can have games where he gives up 6 to 10 hits and still manages to put in a quality start.  Sometimes he has 95 mph fastballs all game, and sometimes he has 89 mph fastballs for 3 straight starts.  Either way, he mashes and grinds and doesn’t ever lose his cool.  I might start calling him Fonzie.  He is apparently a great club house guy too,  getting in well with the thick as thieves crew of Uribe, Puig and Ramirez.  It must be incredibly difficult to come to a country, not speak much if any of the language and be on a huge stage–this is Hollywood!  Keeping the tradition alive of great Korean players, (Chan Ho Park, Hee-Seop Choi) Ryu has True Dodger written all over him.  The type of player I bet Lasorda loves.

GRINDER Image from Deanhunt.com

Ryu’s first start showed his mettle.  It was a battle, it wasn’t pretty, and he earned a lot of people’s respect by not imploding.  That’s the key with Ryu.  I have to watch all my games on MLB.com ( I live in Brooklyn), which is fine, except for the fact that I have to listen to non-Dodger broadcasts for most of the year.  Almost every announcer in 2013 was coming to the same conclusion.  This guy pitches better with men on than without, and that is dangerous for our team.  These salty dog announcers, MANY of them homers, were complimenting Ryu in spite of themselves and giving up a lot of respect to his workman-like, no frills quality.  Like David Wells he was a pure strike thrower.  He WILL THROW STRIKES and basically dare the batter to hit it.  He also had a killer change-up and a close to plus curve.  Ryu pitched very consistently throughout the year and didn’t really fatigue all that much, but for a little hiccup near the end of the regular season.  He pitched 30 games, hitters adjusted, and so did Ryu. The man is a double play machine, leading the league with 26.  If he manages to get as many double plays as is his age, that’ll do nicely.  He ate a lot of innings at 192.  And despite some nerves in the playoffs, the Dodgers won both games he was a part of.

Ryu is rock solid, an unemotional pitcher who keeps his defense alert with his style.  The man can wield the bat nicely, and isn’t afraid to mix it up on the base paths.  In this era of pampering pitchers, Ryu is a throwback.  Not someone who needs too much emotional coaxing.  He’s just there to pitch, and grind.