Unsung First Half Hero: Hyun-jin Ryu

ryu_marlins_2013-05-011Remember when the Dodgers had too much pitching? Ah, fun times. Clayton Kershaw has been as awesome as ever of course, but Chad Billingsley‘s elbow blew up and Zack Greinke got assaulted by Carlos Quentin and Aaron Harang was traded and Ted Lilly was declared legally dead two years ago and Josh Beckett developed a severe case of “old” and Chris Capuano kept getting hurt and Matt Magill wasn’t ready and Stephen Fife was fine, really, when he hasn’t been hurt too, but is still Stephen Fife and…

Phew. Got all that? In the midst of all that uncertainty was perhaps the biggest question mark of all: a chubby 26-year-old lefty trying to make the leap from South Korea who refused to throw bullpen sessions and had proven to exactly no one that he was going to be able to throw hard enough to make his plus changeup matter.

Three months later, Hyun-jin Ryu has proven himself to be steady, if rarely spectacular, and when your rotation is going through all the stress described above, sometimes steady is all you need. In 18 starts, he’s allowed more than three earned runs just three times; only Kershaw has made more starts and thrown more innings among Dodger pitchers. He’s got a top-25 ERA of 3.09 and a top-35 FIP of 3.58, and he’s proven himself to be completely worth the risk and investment so far.

Note that I said “rarely spectacular” and not “never”, because Ryu has had a few phenomenal outings. On April 30, he struck out 12 Rockies in six innings; on May 28, he shut out the Angels on just two hits. He’s not an ace or anything close to it, but when you’re behind Kershaw & Greinke, you don’t really need to be. His stat line is actually oddly similar to Washington’s Gio Gonzalez, who was only a top-3 Cy Young finisher last season.

Now all that being said, there’s a small part of me that wonders how his second half is going to go, because after striking out 55 in 56.1 innings over his first nine starts, he’s whiffed only 37 in 61.1 innings over his second nine. We can see here, from Brooks Baseball, that part of the problem could be that his fastball velocity has declined:

Despite that, he’s actually been using it more of late, almost entirely eliminating the usage of his okay-but-not great curveball:

Don Mattingly appeared to take notice as well, scheduling the second half rotation so that Ryu gets 11 days between starts. That’s probably a good sign, but that’s a worry for the days to come. For now, Ryu has contributed a solid first half when the Dodgers needed it most. Even if he can’t keep it up, we’ll at least always have that.

1004 comments
DBrim
DBrim moderator

I'M IN OHIO. HELP.

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

today would be a great day to GIVE CLAYTON A DAMN-ASSED CONTRACT EXTENSION!!11! 

Mike Petriello
Mike Petriello moderator

is it baseball yet? no?

this is boring I'm bored now.

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

guess what, everybody! still no freaking baseball today! 

Lobo
Lobo

Where is everybody?

Purple Drank
Purple Drank

Good thing we survived that 700 degree onslaught yesterday

efb
efb

@Mike Petriello 75 degrees, sunny, with a cool ocean breeze  here in West LA today :D

Lobo
Lobo

@Disgruntled Goat I'm sure someone has access to Mike's drafts folder.  They can just post it here

Lobo
Lobo

@Mike Petriello Give  us a new post then.  That will give us like an hour of respite from the boredom

DBrim
DBrim moderator

...a charter bus? I don't know.

DBrim
DBrim moderator

I'll scream out the bus window. He'll hear me, right?

Noel D
Noel D

@Lobo @NeDieterich @Disgruntled Goat  I recommend it very highly - for spy-thriller-assassin movie buffs.

Jean-Pierre: The Forty-Seven Ronin. Do you know it?

[Sam shakes his head]

Jean-Pierre: Forty-seven samurai, whose master was betrayed and killed by another lord. They became ronin - masterless samurai - disgraced by another man's treachery. For three years they plotted, pretending to be thieves, mercenaries, even madmen - that I didn't have time to do - and then one night they struck, slipping into the castle of their lord's betrayer and killing him.

Sam: Nice. I like that. My kind of job.

Jean-Pierre: There's something more. All forty-seven of them committed seppuku - ritual suicide - in the courtyard of the castle.

Sam: sepp..uku?

[Jean-Pierre makes seppuku sword motion]

Sam: Well, that I don't like so much.

Disgruntled Goat
Disgruntled Goat moderator

@Lobo @Disgruntled Goat  otherwise i have to leave for work right before the end and it's annoying. plus i work for a bike company so no eyebrows are raised if someone notices. 

in fact, upstairs they are projecting it on the wall.