Ryu Aims for Baseball History Sunday

October 3, 2013

Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu Is Out to Make History On Sunday
As He Aims to Become the First Korean Pitcher to Start and Win a Game during MLB Postseason  


By Danny Kim

Los Angeles Dodgers’ southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu is out to make history when he makes his scheduled Game 3 start during the National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Atlanta Braves.

When Ryu, 26, takes the mound at Dodger stadium on Sunday, he’ll go into record books as the first Korean pitcher to start a Major League playoff game. Then, he’ll look to become the first Korean pitcher to win in the postseason.

It’s been 20 years since the arrival of Chan-Ho Park to the Majors as a member of the Dodgers. Korean pitchers have yet to win or even get on the mound to start a game during the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, 31, became the first Korean player (regardless of position) to start a Major League playoff game – six days before Ryu’s scheduled start in a 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night. It took Choo nine years to finally get a taste of the playoffs but unfortunately, his first-ever playoff journey ended after just one game.

Before Choo, three Korean players – Byung-Hyun Kim, Chan-Ho Park, and Hee-Seop Choi – had experienced the postseason. While Kim did record three saves, he never won a game and Park never really had a decent chance to win as he only got to play in the playoffs towards the tail end of his career.

Choi recorded one pinch-hit appearance in the postseason.

Ryu, however, is in a different category, as he is a key member of the Dodgers starting rotation. As a 14-game winner with a sparkling ERA of 3.00, he will start Game 3 of the NLDS after ace Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Should he win, it’ll no doubt go down as one of the biggest achievements in Korean baseball history.

Ryu was the starting pitcher for 14 of the Dodgers’ 92 wins this season – third on the team behind Kershaw (16) and Greinke (15). He trails only Kershaw (1.94) and Greinke (2.75) in ERA at 3.00. Only Kershaw recorded more innings (236 to Ryu’s 192), strikeouts (232 to 154), and quality starts (27 to 22 – pitching at least 6 innings while allowing three runs or less).

Ryu was better than advertised and as steady as a rock in his first season in the United States. Even when the Dodgers struggled to the bottom of the division earlier in the year, Ryu recorded 6 wins during the first two months to keep the team afloat along with Kershaw. It’s not far-fetched to say that it would have been difficult for the Dodgers to win the division this season without Ryu. They might not have seen the best of him yet, since Ryu came to the U.S. with a reputation of being a big game pitcher.

After having starred in the World baseball Classic and winning the gold-medal game during the Beijing Olympics, no stage is too big for him.  Ryu just may help the Dodgers win their first World Series title since 1988.


Koreans in Major League Postseason Stats

G-game(s), L-loss(es), IP-inning pitched, ER-earned run(s), K-strikeout(s), R-Run(s), RBI-Run Batted In, HBP-Hit By Pitch

Player Year Team Stats
Byung-Hyun Kim 2001 Arizona 6G, 1L, 9⅔IP, 5ER, 10K
2002 Arizona 1G, 1IP, 2ER
2003 Boston 1G, ⅔IP, 1ER, 1K
Hee-Seop Choi 2004 LA Dodgers 1G, 0-1
Chan-Ho Park 2006 San Diego 1G, 2IP, OER
2008 LA Dodgers 4G, 1⅔IP, OER, 1K
2009 Philadelphia 8G, 1L, 6⅔IP, 3ER, 6K
Shin-Soo Choo 2013 Cincinnati 1 for 3, 2R, 1RBI, 1K, 1HBP


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