On his lengthy road to recovery after missing all of 2015 with shoulder surgery, Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu has finally reached the stage where you can start to see him pitching in an actual game very soon. He’s progressed well enough to now throw to a catcher.
About a month ago, there was video of Ryu throwing from both flat ground and from a mound. However, in neither video could we see the catcher, and based on the trajectory of his arm and the ball leaving his hand, it looked like there wasn’t a catcher squatting down. Well, now there is.
From Hyun-jin Ryu’s (@hyunjinryu325) official Instagram account:
As he notes, this is the first time he’s pitched with a catcher in the squatting slash receiving position. This is a monumental step for the 28, soon-to-be 29, year old native of South Korea. The fact he’s gotten to this point bodes well for his recovery and the hope that he can pitch by Opening Day.
Ryu last pitched in 2014 when he finished with a 3.38 ERA in 152.0 innings while striking 139 batters and walking just 29. In 2013, he had a 3.00 ERA in 192.0 innings. Ryu walked 49 batters that year but struck out 154.
In his career, Ryu has a 3.17 ERA and is averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, and he seems poised to at least transform the motivation of missing all of 2015 into a really good 2016.
As it stands, the projection based system known as Steamer projects Ryu to finish with a 3.43 ERA in 2016 while throwing 113.0 innings. If he could give the Dodgers that kind of production and that amount of innings, it’d be a huge boost to their title chances.
Ryu’s recovery has been something to marvel at. It takes some pitchers quite a while to come back from that kind of shoulder surgery, but he appears right on the path to pitching in April, and that’s the best kind of news one can receive right now. This is fantastic stuff.