Tonight in game three the Dodgers will send Hyun-Jin Ryu out to the mound looking for him to continue his excellent season and NLDS track record.
The Dodgers are looking for their offense to bounce back in game three of the NLDS to avoid being put on the brink of elimination. In addition to more offense, the Dodgers will be looking for a better start than the one Clayton Kershaw gave them in game two. The good news for LA is they will send their best starting pitcher from the regular season out against Anibal Sanchez, Hyun-Jin Ryu.
While Jacob deGrom will likely take home the 2019 NL Cy Young award, Hyun-Jin Ryu had a stellar season and led the National League with a minuscule 2.32 ERA. Although he hit a slump in August, Ryu rebounded with a strong September and will now look to continue his excellence in the National League Division series.
Ryu’s first NLDS start was a subpar outing as he went three innings and allowed four runs in the 2013 NLDS against the Atlanta Braves. His last two NLDS starts, although four years apart were both excellent. In game three of the 2014 NLDS, Ryu pitched six innings of one run ball against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Then there was the 2018 NLDS in which Hyun-Jin opened the series against the Braves and fired seven shutout innings. Ryu induced 12 of his 21 outs via the ground ball and will look for similar stats tonight with his nose diving changeup. The Nationals faced Ryu twice this season and scored just one run against him.
Back on May 12th, Hyun-Jin Ryu lost a no hitter in the eighth inning against Washington after guess who, Gerardo Parra, doubled with one down in the eighth inning. Ryu struck out nine batters that day and allowed just the one double by Parra in eight shutout innings. His next start came in Washington on July 26th, and Ryu allowed just one run on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings of work.
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In those two starts this season against Washington, the Nationals posted a slash line of just .185/.214/.222 against Ryu. The Nationals were one of the better hitting teams against southpaws this season, as they exhibited against Kershaw in game two, but Ryu has been able to hold them in check. He will need to deliver another strong outing with runs at a premium due to a strugging Dodger offense.
Just two of the Nationals’ ten hits off Hyun-Jin Ryu went for extra bases. One was the aforementioned double by Parra that ended Ryu’s no hitter in May, and the other came off the bat of Anthony Rendon in July. Parra is unlikely to start against the southpaw Ryu so the main hitter to avoid will be NL MVP candidate Anthony Rendon who slugged .618 against left-handed pitching in 2019.
The one caveat for Ryu is that he will be starting on the road. Over the last three seasons, Hyun-Jin has a 3.90 ERA on the road compared to a 2.74 ERA at home. The good news for the Dodgers is that Ryu was better on the road in 2019, sporting a very good 2.72 ERA on the road.
If Ryu has his “A” game tonight he will attack all four quadrants of the strike zone and keep Washington off balance. If he can go at least six innings and hold the Nats to two runs or fewer then there is a good chance that the Dodgers have a 2-1 series lead heading into Monday.