Dodgers: Who Will be the Dodgers Biggest X-Factor in 2018?

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: Walker Buehler
DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 01: Walker Buehler /
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Hyun-Jin Ryu

The Dodgers have three very good starting pitchers at the back end of their rotation.  While Maeda and Ryu are noteworthy, they could help solidify the rotation as one of the best in baseball this season.  Hyun-Jin Ryu won 14 games in his first two seasons with the Dodgers but his career has been derailed since.  Ryu came back strong in the second half of last season posting a 3.17 ERA and allowing a .240 average to hitters.

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With Ryu being in a contract year, he appears motivated to have one of his best seasons yet and even showed up to camp looking noticeably slimmer than he has in previous years.  Although it feels like Ryu has been around for a long time, he will barely be thirty-one years old at the end of this month so he still has a lot left in the tank.

Although the Dodgers are seemingly biding their time until Walker Buehler is ready to go, Hyun-Jin is not going to be the one who leaves the rotation if he performs well.  Since Kenta Maeda has shown he can pitch well out of the bullpen, there is a chance that Ryu could slide down into the fourth spot in the rotation when it’s time for the Dodgers to unleash Walker Buehler.

Next: Projecting who makes the opening day bullpen

Looking around the major leagues, there are a lot of teams who have a weak and questionable back end of the starting rotation but the Dodgers are very good from spots one to five in the rotation.  If Ryu can finally stay healthy from shoulder ailments that have hindered him the past couple of season, then the Dodgers could have the best fifth starter in baseball with Ryu.