Ryu’s case is so interesting he gets a section of his own.
He started the All-Star game. He is the NL leader in ERA, over established aces like Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer. And yet, his role is up in the air, despite him having a 19-8 record and 2.22 ERA over his last two seasons (239.2 innings).
Why? His recent struggles.
On August 16, he had an NL leading 1.45 ERA and a 12-3 record.
Then he pitched on August 17 and allowed four earned runs. Then he pitched two more times, each time allowing seven earned runs. He now has a 2.35 ERA and three straight losses to his name. He’s trending 100% in the wrong direction.
And yet he’s still the best starter on the team in terms of ERA. Until a few weeks ago, he was garnering strong consideration to start Game 1 of a playoff series for the Dodgers.
Now? I think the team will continue to rest him and utilize some of the other eight available starters to give him rest and limit his outings to 70 pitches or less, or even to four innings or less.
Pitching Ryu once through the order before turning things over to Dustin May, Kenta Maeda, Julio Urias, and Ross Stripling does two things.
One, it allows Ryu to get reps against the top of the order while keeping his stuff sharp, and maintaining his stuff for when it really matters. Two, the other starting-capable pitchers need innings, especially if there isn’t room to get them real starts.
But more on that next.