Waiting for Ryu-demption

October 9, 2013

Dodgers’ Korean Left-hander Looks for Another Chance in NLCS

Ryu Has Wins Over Both Cardinals and Pirates during Regular Season

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu,center right,  of South Korea, joins teammates in celebrating the Dodgers' 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the National League baseball division series Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Los Angeles. The Dodgers advanced to the NL championship series. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (center right) of South Korea, joins teammates in celebrating the Dodgers’ 4-3 win over the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the National League Division Series Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Los Angeles. The Dodgers advanced to the National League Championship Series. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

By Lee Kyutae

Now that the Los Angeles Dodgers have made it to the National League Championship Series (NLCS·Best-of-7) thanks to Juan Uribe, the main question on the minds of Korean fans’ is if and when Hyun-Jin Ryu will get on the mound again.

Ryu’s season-worst struggle in Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves and Clayton Kershaw throwing on short rest in Game 4 have made the timing of Ryu’s next start less predictable. Ryu, admittedly nervous, didn’t instill any confidence by lasting only 3 innings. Kershaw will not be available for NLCS Game 1, scheduled for Friday.

And then, there’s this lingering suspicion of Ryu being injured…

The Dodgers are in no hurry to announce their rotation since they don’t know who their next opponent will be yet. Should the St. Louis Cardinals prevail on Wednesday, they’ll travel to St. Louis, and if the Pittsburgh Pirates come out on top, they’ll host the Pirates, based on regular season record.

When the Dodgers decided to use their ace Kershaw on three days rest, it was pretty much decided that Zack Greinke will get the nod in Game 1 of the NLCS. It made sense since Kershaw will still be in line to get two starts – Game 2 and Game 6 of the NLCS.

That means Ryu is most likely to start Game 3 on October 14th, either at Dodger Stadium against the Pirates or on the road against the Cardinals. Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly did say in his post-game interview that he isn’t ready to give up on Ryu and that he plans to give him another chance.

Ryu has faced both the Cardinals and the Pirates – once each – during the regular season. He beat the Cardinals in St. Louis, as he allowed only one run while striking out seven in seven innings. His very first Major League victory was at home against the Pirates. He only allowed three hits and two runs in 6⅓ innings, but that was when the Pirates got off to 1-5 start. After losing to Ryu, the Pirates got hot, as they won their next 14 out of 19 games en route to their first playoff appearance in 21 years.

Why Ryu, a veteran of the big stage, got so nervous is another story. The 26-year-old southpaw won in Korea’s gold medal-clinching victory at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA for the second-place Korean squad at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Whatever the reason may be, his shaky performance did leave the door open for Ricky Nolasco or Chris Capuano, or even hard-throwing Chris Withrow to start Game 3. Luckily for Ryu, Nolasco had a 12.75 ERA in his last three starts of regular season, which probably played a role in the Dodgers’ rationale to go with Kershaw instead, and Capuano, while pitching three scoreless innings in relief of Ryu, walked the leadoff hitter every inning. The Dodgers’ bullpen also might be too thin to withstand the absence of Withrow with Ronald Belisario and Paco Rodriguez struggling.

One Comment

  1. DI Cheon

    October 9, 2013 at 8:48 AM

    It was exciting game. Now Ryu has another chance to pitch post season.