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Dodgers: Comparing Hyun-Jin Ryu to Zack Wheeler in Free Agency

Ryu could be easily replaced by the right-handed Wheeler.



Who will the Dodgers get this winter to bolster their starting rotation? Will they get anyone at all? We will all have to wait to find out. However, we do know who the Dodgers will hold interest in — and who they should — with the names Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Wheeler in the mix.

According to a recent piece in The Athletic by former general manager Jim Bowden, the case is not an entirely clear one like you might think.

Zack Wheeler

Zack Wheeler might be the most underrated starting pitcher in all of baseball. He has ace upside and his profile is not all that dissimilar from Gerrit Cole in the year before Cole made the jump to superstardom. At age 29, Wheeler posted a 3.96 ERA, but a much better looking 3.43 FIP, per Baseball Prospectus.

To see the ace upside, all you have to do is see the excellent velocity on his fastball and his statistics from the second half of 2018. With a staff as analytically inclined as that of the Dodgers, Wheeler could reach new heights. The New York Mets do not exactly have the greatest track record with developing and maintaining starting pitchers.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu is literally the opposite of Zack Wheeler. One relies on finesse and command, the other leans on power and deception. Both pitchers are excellent in their own right. While Ryu had the better 2019 season, undoubtedly, will that hold going forward? Ryu is now 32 and considering his poor track record in terms of health, how much can he be relied on? At a similar price point to Wheeler, is Ryu the better option? Bowden argues no.

Overall

While it might be awesome from a fan perspective to have Ryu back in Dodger blue, Zack Wheeler might be the better option for the team going forward. If the Dodgers do not pursue Gerrit Cole in free agency, Wheeler is the next best thing that is actually attainable.

Written by Daniel Preciado

My name is Daniel Preciado and I am 19 years old. I am a sophomore Sport Analytics major and Cognitive Science and Economics dual minor at Syracuse University. When I am not in New York, I live in Whittier, California --- not too far from Chavez Ravine. I am pretty old-school for being an analytics guy and I will always embrace debate. Also, Chase Utley did absolutely nothing wrong.

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  1. Wheeler has a great upside. He could thrive in LA. He would be a good signing for us. If we can’t get Cole, he would be a good fallback option. Pitchers tend to have good years when they come from elsewhere to LA.

  2. Wheeler has his own injury history that includes TJ surgery that wiped out two full seasons (2015 and 2016), a flexor strain in 2017 put him on the IL, and shoulder pain in 2019 resulted in another stay on the IL. The two pitchers could not be more different; Ryu relies on command, location, and changing speeds while Wheeler is the prototypical power pitcher. The Dodgers have power pitchers Buehler, May, Gonsolin, Urias for 2020, with Gray, Uceta, and Grove likely ready for 2021. If Dodgers are going to sign a FA starting pitcher go all in on Gerrit Cole and trade Kenta Maeda. Hill, Ryu, and Maeda 2019 salaries (including incentives) was more than $40M so signing Cole is not a problem salary wise.

  3. I agree Dodgers should go all in on Cole, then trade Maeda, in as much as he is insistent on not going to the BP at all, including in October. I have heard on the MLBN that Trout from the Angels are pushing his team to go all in and bring Cole back home. Only issue I have is that Boras may hold Cole out to get the best possible deal which could mean he remains unsigned through January or even through February. If that is the case, IDK if Dodgers , who may consider other FA pitchers would want to wait that long to see what Cole and Boras decide because most if not all available pitchers may be off the market by that time.

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