Hyun-Jin Ryu is hoping for better results against the Giants Thursday. (Nostraballus.wordpress.com)
Back in January, when we slotted Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu 20th in our Starting Pitcher Rankings, we wondered what kind of adjustments the league would make against him after his fine “rookie” season (as always, we balk at calling a player that has seven years professional experience a rook).
Well, so far, we’d say the rest of the majors is still trying to figure Ryu out as he’s provided value almost exactly as we thought he would (he’s currently 21st among SP based on ESPN’s rankings).
In his last start (Friday in Arizona) he was pitching on an extra day of rest and it did wonders as he tossed seven brilliant innings of shutout ball, surrendering a mere two hits while fanning eight and walking one.
In fact, other than Miguel Montero (two singles), no Snake could puncture Ryu, who set down 18 of the final 19 batters he faced.
A bounce back effort like that was just what the doctor ordered for Ryu after the Giants had tattooed him for eight hits and eight runs (six earned) in just two innings a week earlier.
Well, Thursday afternoon we’ll find out if Ryu was schooled in that outing as he gets the Giants again — this time in San Francisco.
Other than the ugly outing, things have gone extremely well for him through his first four starts of 2014. Ryu has been nearly unhittable with just 15 hits allowed in 21 IP, and better yet, he has not served up a gopher ball after coughing up 15 in 30 starts last year. He has trimmed his WHIP to a stellar 1.10, and he ranks in the top 10 in the NL in strikeouts.
Ryu’s command isn’t quite as sharp as 2013, but it’s still strong enough that we are not concerned. Perhaps he has been a tad lucky so far (his xFIP is 3.55), but we are still talking about en elite talent here and yet another success story for the Dodgers, who continue to excel on the International signings front.
By the way, we’re not sure how strong a command of English the Korean-born Ryu has, but he’s certainly developed an understanding with teammate Juan Uribe, of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, Cuban Yasiel Puig doesn’t like it, and he clearly likes to try to get under Uribe’s skin (see video below).
On Thursday, Ryu needs to be very careful with Angel Pagan (5-for-8 career vs. Ryu), but generally speaking, he doesn’t have a history of getting slapped around by the Giants in the least. Last year, Ryu was 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts against San Francisco.
We think we can safely say that his April 4 hammering by the Giants was a one-off, so we’d advise keeping him active for this start.
- Speaking of Dodger International signees, Yasiel Puig just can’t escape the drama, can he? Not only is he reportedly being threatened by the people that set up his defection from Cubs in 2012, a recent civil lawsuit has been filed accusing him of wrongfully accusing a man of trying to set up a defection. What?! Oh man. Do you get the sense that the constant headache that surrounds Puig may actually outstrip his talent in terms of immensity? Did you see how big a douchebag he was in the video above? Yikes!
- Hanley Ramirez got plunked on the hand by a pitch and had to come out early Wednesday, leaving his owners praying to the baseball gods for good news. Sure enough, X-rays were negative, and while he is not in the lineup Thursday, he dodged a bullet here, and will likely be back in action this weekend. Of course, you better double check the lineup Friday before activating H-Ram.
- In losing the first two games of this three-game series in San Francisco, the Dodgers have ceded first place in the NL West to the archrival Giants, so for a mid-April game, this start by Ryu Thursday afternoon has more importance than usual — for several reasons.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below how you think Ryu will do against the Giants Thursday.
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