Dodgers’ Ryu Hyun-jin likely available in bullpen for NLDS Game 5

October 8, 2019

Los Angeles Dodgers’ South Korean starter Ryu Hyun-jin will be ready to come out of the bullpen to help extend his club’s postseason run.

Ryu reiterated his willingness to pitch in relief on Monday, following the Dodgers’ 6-1 loss to the Washington Nationals in Game 4 of the National League Division Series (NLDS) in Washington. The best-of-five series is now tied at 2-2 and will be decided in Wednesday’s Game 5 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

Ryu has made just one relief appearance out of 126 career regular season games. He’s made eight postseason starts so far without once trotting out of the bullpen.

Ryu had first told reporters after his Game 3 win on Sunday that he’d be prepared to pitch out of the bullpen if the situation called for it in a potential Game 5. And with the deciding fifth game on the horizon now, Ryu said Monday, “If I am asked to do it, I’ll pitch out of the bullpen.”

When first informed of Ryu’s remarks from Sunday prior to Game 4, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said it was “great to hear.”

“I applaud him for being open to do whatever it takes to help us win a baseball game,” Roberts said. “We’ll have that conversation if it’s necessary.”

Ryu, who missed all but one start in the 2015 and 2016 seasons following shoulder and elbow surgeries, was left off the Dodgers’ postseason roster in 2017, because he wasn’t good enough to crack the starting rotation and wasn’t considered an option in the bullpen because of a special routine that he needed to get warmed up.

Ryu has since bounced back, and in 2018, he led all of baseball with a 2.32 ERA in the regular season. Ryu was the winning pitcher in the Dodgers’ 10-4 win in Game 3, and he only threw 74 pitches in five innings.

The relatively light workload, combined with the fact that a few bullpen arms have been knocked around in the series, makes Ryu an enticing relief option for Roberts, even if it may only be for one inning.

“I thought he pitched really well last night (in Game 3), to get him back potentially for an inning out of the pen, that’s certainly a luxury for us, if it gets to that point,” Roberts said in his pregame interview.

Then discussing his Game 5 plans following Monday’s loss, Roberts said, “I think that Hyun-jin, I’m sure, will be available, but we’ll see what happens.”