I had a change of plans for this Thursday so when I heard Hyun-Jin Ryu was going to make a rehabilitation start for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, I decided to go and chart his pitches. Ryu got off to a great start in 2018 (29.2 IP, 16 H, 36 K and a 2.12. ERA) then, on May 2, suffered a groin injury where muscle was torn from the bone.
Overall, the results where phenomenal:
Ryu’s line at Rancho: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks, 47 pitches, 34 strikes.
— Howard Cole (@Howard_Cole) August 3, 2018
Of course, this was against high A ball hitters but one of the reasons I went was to see some things that don’t show up in the box score. There is a radar gun on the left field scoreboard and my seats were in a good spot to see the location of the pitches:
A quick note, this amazing seat was $13 and LoanMart Field is a wonderful experience. Back to Ryu’s performance, in the first inning his fastball velocity was between 85 and 88 MPH, which is well below the 92-94 MPH he was hitting before his injury. However, part of this rehab assignment is to build back his arm strength. His curveball was 73-74 MPH and his changeup was 78-80. What was clear from the beginning was his curveball was spot on and he was locating the changeup low in the zone. In the second inning, a 7 pitch inning, every pitch was located low in the zone. The hitters had no chance against him. In the third inning, he did give up his first hit, up the middle along with a hard line out to center field. Near the end of the inning, he did hit 90 MPH with his fastball.
I wasn’t sure he would come out for the fourth but I stuck around (I was heading to Orange County after Ryu was done for a concert), just in case. Ryu came out in the fourth and exhibited a consistent uptick on his fastball, hitting 90 MPH 3 times. He did give up another hit but got two groundouts and a strikeout. Again, the location on most of his pitches was excellent with just a few exceptions. In some cases, in the last 2 innings, he was getting a 10 MPH difference between his fastball and changeup with the curve staying in the low 70s.
All in all, I was very impressed with what I saw. He was sporting the orangish hair and didn’t seem to have gained any extra weight in the long injury rehabilitation. A very important note; pitchers are allowed a 30-day rehab assignment with the clock starting for Ryu on August 2. September 1, when rosters expand, is when Ryu’s 30 days will be up.
It could go quicker if they feel he’s ready earlier and needing to replace someone else due to injury or ineffectiveness. If Ryu can get back to how good he was in April he could earn a spot in the playoff rotation. During September he can also help keep guys like Ross Stripling and Walker Buehler to limit their innings by possibly having tandem starts, where one guy starts and goes 3-4 innings then the next starter comes in for another 3-4. A healthy Hyun-Jin Ryu only makes the Dodgers even better for the stretch run and even into the playoffs. If he has another rehab start at LoanMart Field, I highly encourage you to make the trip.
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”none” rel=”follow” openin=”samewindow” url=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/recap-top-performers-for-the-dodgers-in-july-ac0899/2018/08/02/”]Recap: Top Performers for the Dodgers in July[/button]