After the Dodgers dropped Friday night’s game to the Nationals, the task doesn’t get any easier Saturday night when the Dodgers will face Stephen Strasburg. Luckily for LA, Hyun-Jin Ryu is capable of going head to head with a top-tier opponent like Strasburg.
While all the free-agency talk has been centered around Clayton Kershaw, and rightfully so, the Dodgers have another free agent to be in Hyun-Jin Ryu. Ryu’s past few seasons have been injury plagued, but this is a pitcher who won 14 games in each of his first two seasons in Major League Baseball. How many fifth starters around the league can say they have won 14 games once?
While injuries have slowed Ryu in each of the past two seasons, when healthy he is still a very good starting pitcher. His very first start of the season against the Diamondbacks was rough, Ryu didn’t even last four innings and gave up three runs and five walks. Since that first start of his, Hyun-Jin Ryu has been pretty good.
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Against the Oakland A’s, Ryu had a no-hitter through five innings and finished with one hit allowed in six innings to go along with eight strikeouts. In his last start against the Padres, Ryu delivered another quality start as he surrendered two runs to go along with three hits and nine strikeouts. Overall through three regular season starts, Ryu has posted a 2.87 ERA while limiting opposing hitters to a .164 average. Ryu’s 0.96 WHIP is another key indicator that his season is off to a strong start.
Hyun-Jin Ryu appears to be rounding back into his old form as his strikeout numbers are up a bit as he is currently averaging 10.9 K/9IP. One thing I have noticed with Ryu this season is that he is making it a point to use his cutter to induce weak contact and ground balls. Ryu’s curveball is another factor in his early season revival. Between his cutter and big looping curveball, it’s no wonder that Ryu’s BABIP is way down at .229. When hitters are making contact against Ryu, they just aren’t hitting the ball very hard.
Saturday is going to be a big test for Hyun-Jin Ryu. It’s easy to look at his first three starts and say that two of them came against weak hitting teams like the Oakland A’s and San Diego Padres. If Ryu can put up a solid start against the Washington Nationals, then he is capable of beating anyone. Hyun-Jin Ryu is a very solid starting pitcher and one of the best fifth starters in the big leagues. If he can mow down the Nationals on Saturday night then there is no doubt the Dodgers have a bargain and the best fifth starter in the league.