The Los Angeles Dodgers were in need of starting pitchers and put that at the top of their priorities last off-season.
Well, they went overseas and brought in Korean left-handed import Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers are no strangers to Korean pitchers as 18 years ago they signed the first Korean player to play in the major league, Chan Ho Park.
Park was very successful with the dodgers so they didn’t hesitate to pay a posting fee of $25 million-plus and a six-year $36 million deal that can reach $42 million with certain incentives. In total, the Dodgers gambled around $62 million on a little-known left-hander from Korea, hoping they could catch lightning in a bottle like they did with Park.
Regular Season Grade: A
The Dodgers’ gamble paid off as Ryu was a surprise hit this season and became an instant fan favorite. Ryu stayed healthy most of the year, despite some back issues, but finished the season with a 14-8 record, 3.00 ERA, 154 strikeouts and a 1.20 WHIP.
Ryu was able to eat some innings for the Dodgers as well, saving the bullpen extra work load as he pitched 192 innings in his first season with the club. He was also able to hold runners on well as only three runners attempted a steal, with one being successful.
The 26-year-old lefty was even more impressive at Chavez Ravine where he went 7-4 with a 2.32 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP with 13 quality starts at home. Ryu gave the Dodgers a solid third starter to complement the one-two punch of Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and the equally effective Zack Greinke.
Ryu did tail off a bit in the middle of the season as he finished July with a 4.50 ERA but turned things around, finishing August and September with a 2.61 ERA and a 2.88 ERA respectively.
Playoff Grade: B
Ryu started Game 3 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves and didn’t get past the third inning as he allowed four runs on six hits and one walk. While everyone believed something was psychically wrong with him, manager Don Mattingly explained that Ryu was overly anxious and nervous for his first career playoff start.
In Game 3 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Ryu was extremely dominant and got the Dodgers on the board in the series. In his start, Ryu pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, allowing just three hits while striking out four.
Overall Grade: B+
The Dodgers didn’t know what they were going to get from Ryu and nobody really knew what they were getting from him this season.
He surpassed all expectations and was a candidate for the NL Rookie of the Year Award in the end with Yasiel Puig. Ryu gave the Dodgers one of the best rotations in the league and came up big when they needed him the most.
He will surely work harder in the off-season to try and avoid a sophomore slump as the Dodgers look to add to their already strong rotation over the winter.
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