Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu took the mound on Monday in a simulated environment against a group of Minor Leaguers from the Chicago White Sox.
It was Ryu’s first outing of the spring. He was originally scheduled to start against the Cleveland Indians last Wednesday, but was scratched after falling ill with the virus that swept through the Dodgers clubhouse.
He faced 11 batters and allowed one run on three hits across 2.2 innings. After the outing, Ryu revealed that he’s attempting to increase the spin rate on his curveball this season, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I’m making slight adjustments, trying to throw it harder so that it breaks in front of the hitter,” Ryu said. “Trying to put more spins on it. I always knew in theory if I put more spin on it, it would be tougher for the hitters, but I’ve never tried it out during the season. This is Spring Training and you get to try new stuff, and one of the things is to try this and see how the hitters react to it.”
Last season, Ryu utilized his curveball over 15 percent of the time — a career-high in usage rate. Furthermore, the pitch graded positively, per FanGraphs’ measures, earning a wCB value of 4.3 — the best mark among the four pitches in his arsenal.
As it presently stands, Ryu is being counted on as one of the club’s five starters. He went 5-9 last season, with a 3.77 ERA, 4.74 FIP and 1.37 WHIP in 25 games (24 starts).
Although Ryu faired well in the lone relief appearance, his warmup process was considered too complex and lengthy to make a switch to the bullpen like Kenta Maeda did. Now entering his sixth season with the Dodgers, Ryu is still looking to recapture his pre-surgery form.
There were flashes of it last season, but he’s struggled with consistency since missing the entire 2015 season and making just one start in 2016.