Similar to the situation with the outfielders, the perception exists that the Los Angeles Dodgers have more starting pitchers than they do starting slots. However, come the season opener on March 22, the Dodgers could find themselves in Australia without their two aces –Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Don Mattingly has kicked around the idea of forgoing using Kershaw in Sydney to not overwork him early and Greinke suffered a calf strain in his first Spring Training start, which may cause him to miss his next scheduled start and could remove him from consideration for the two-game Opening Series. That would suddenly thrust Hyun-Jin Ryu into the Opening Day starter’s role in just his second season in the big leagues, which ESPN LA’s Mark Saxon reports the left-hander would be ready for:
A native of South Korea, Ryu said he would do whatever manager Don Mattingly asks. If he wants him to pitch in Australia, great. If not, no problem.
The 26-year-old Korean also offered advice for his teammates on how to best handle the time zone change:
The best thing to do is not to sleep during the day. No naps, Ryu said through a translater. There’s no secret formula.
The left-hander threw two innings and gave up two hits to the Chicago White Sox in the Dodgers 5-0 win on Friday. Ryu finished 2013 with a 14-8 record, but struggled against teams that he faced for a second time around, which manager Don Mattingly believes was due to opponents adjusting, something he expects to carry over in 2014:
I think they’re going to know his off-speed, how good his changeup is, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. It didn’t take that long, really. You could see teams trying to make adjustments last year.
Ryu’s even keeled nature may suit the team well in the expected animated atmosphere. The games won’t only signal the start of the 2014 regular season, there’s no love lost between the two teams, which could lead to more heated exchanges.
ICYMI: Here’s our Dodgers Nation Week In Review Video