If you have been living on another planet – you have missed Hyun-Jin Ryu’s ascent to superstar starting pitcher for the Dodgers. Indeed, the 32-year old southpaw is right on the cusp of that characterization. Meanwhile, with 31 consecutive scoreless innings at the time of this post; one might argue he’s the game’s best pitcher right now.
However – different from most aces – it hasn’t been a direct path for Ryu. While battling groin injuries, Ryu signed a one-year qualifying offer from the Dodgers in the offseason. At the time, it was hardly a major story nationally.
Now, Bill Plunkett of the OC Register talks with Ryu about re-joining the Dodgers; and his opportunity to possibly start the All-Star game in July in Cleveland.
#Dodgers notes: Last winter, it was an easy choice for Hyun-Jin Ryu to accept LAD's qualifying offer. The way he's pitching this year, his choices could get more complicated next winter.https://t.co/zNj2htaYVy
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) May 25, 2019
Now it’s important to remember Ryu is a Scott Boras client. Certainly it would have been easy for him to try to test the open market as a free agent. However, that wasn’t his goal this past winter.
“To be honest, it wasn’t a difficult decision,” Ryu said through his interpreter. “Knowing the amount of money that was on the line was significant and it was way more than what I was making, I did put some time towards thinking about it and also obviously had Scott Boras, my agent, and people around me helping. But at the end of the day, the decision wasn’t that difficult.”
Equally important, Ryu says that the Dodgers did a great job in transitioning him from a foreign country. Of course, this bodes well for future international free agents who consider Los Angeles as a destination.
“I’ve been playing for the Dodgers seven years in a row and that is the only team that I know. After making the transition here to the United States, I was never in a situation where I could consider other teams or whatnot. The people around me have done a great job of taking care of me so I’m able to focus on baseball and this season.”
Finally, Plunkett asked Ryu about the possibility of being a 2019 All-Star. The 6-1 pitcher with a 1.52 ERA’s answer may surprise you some.
“I actually never really thought about making the All-Star team, let alone starting an All-Star Game,” Ryu said. “It never really crossed my mind yet. It’s a little too early because you never know what’s going to happen in the future. There’s still more games to be played before the All-Star break.”
It’s great to see the emergence of Ryu as a superstar for the Dodgers. Certainly, he’s always been a solid pitcher over the course of his career. To be talking about him as the best pitcher in the game as we enter the month of June is an entirely different animal.
Dodger fans have lucked into this bargain of a pitcher. Surely, Ryu will command a higher price tag than his $17 million dollar salary if he finishes 2019 with the accolades he has a chance to. That would be a win for all parties involved.