Dodgers’ starting pitcher, Hyun-Jin Ryu, has been impressive during the 2019 season, and until recently, he was a virtual lock to win the NL Cy Young award. However, as the summer turns to fall and the postseason looms, his early-season dominance has seemingly disappeared.
When Ryu returned to the team on August 11 after a short stint on the IL, he held a 1.45 ERA which was about a whole point below any other starting pitcher in the league. Fast forward to today and he still holds first place in that category, but now sits at 2.45 with a number of pitchers right on his tail.
While his first few months of the year were simply phenomenal, his August and start to September have been pretty much the opposite.
Hyun-Jin Ryu, ERA by month:
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) September 5, 2019
It’s tough to say why Ryu’s slide has been so dramatic, but one possible answer could be a lack of rest. The Dodgers’ pitcher is notorious for missing full or large portions of a few seasons due to injury during his MLB career.
The truth is, despite a couple of short stints on the IL, Ryu is not accustomed to pitching as many innings as he has this year.
The good news is the Dodgers are making sure that if Ryu doesn’t perform as well during the playoffs as he has during the regular season, it won’t be due to a lack of rest.
Hyun-Jin Ryu will be skipped a start.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) September 6, 2019
Perhaps the most unfortunate part of this solution is that the Dodgers’ pitcher can’t do anything to add to his Cy Young case if he doesn’t pitch much more during the regular season. It is important, though, that the team take every precaution to get Ryu back to his pre-August form as they attempt to finally snap this long playoff drought.
Can Ryu Be Trusted As the Ace Come October?
It seems that Ryu has proven to fans, as well as the rest of the league, that he has the type of stuff that can devastate opposing offenses.
I think that as long as he is sufficiently rested over the next month, the team would be wrong to put the ball in anyone else’s hands for any potential game one. Sure, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler are always there to step into that ace position, but both have had their own respective problems throughout this season.
Kershaw has become a very home run prone pitcher as he’s transitioned into the later stages in his career and Buehler has been relatively inconsistent from start to start all throughout 2019. At their best, they’re both great options, but they’ve also both struggled this season at various times just as Ryu is struggling right now.
Up until recently, Ryu’s done everything possible to instill team confidence in his ace ability.
The fact is, the team will likely have to rely on the strength of their starting pitchers in the postseason. If Ryu doesn’t return to form, the Dodgers’ chances of winning that elusive World Series title are significantly decreased.
Let us know what you think below! Why has Ryu struggled recently and what should the team do as the postseason looms?