2017 NLDS: Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Only Path To Dodgers’ Playoff Roster Is Via Starting Rotation
Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

For as many opportunities to remain in the rotation the Los Angeles Dodgers provided to Hyun-Jin Ryu, his time on an active roster may be coming to a close. Ryu’s recent string of success, coupled with Alex Wood’s history pitching out of the bullpen, created for some flexibility.

While it once seemed plausible both southpaws would be included on the Dodgers’ playoff roster, Ryu will only remain active if the team decides to include him in the rotation. “Obviously, he’s uncomfortable [pitching in a relief] role,” manager Dave Roberts said this week.

“For Ryu, it’s either going to be as a starter or not on the roster.” When Roberts recently declined to commit to Wood as the fourth starter for the playoffs, it lent to growing speculation Ryu would will the role.

But he had an outing shortened because of being struck on the left forearm by a line drive, then was hit hard in a season finale at Coors Field.

Wood pitched his way out of the bullpen and became the Dodgers’ second-best starting pitcher through the first half. He was bumped down the totem pole by the trade for Yu Darvish, and Rich Hill meeting expectations.

“With Alex, he’s obviously done both roles,” Roberts said of Wood potentially starting or pitching in relief. “He’s earned the opportunity to potentially get a long look as a starter. He’s had a tremendous season.”

Perhaps a sign he will round out the NLDS rotation, Wood followed Darvish during Wednesday’s workout with three innings of simulated work. Though, Ryu is scheduled to throw Thursday night.

Ultimately, it may matter little on who is selected as the fourth starter. Clayton Kershaw has started on short rest in the NLDS each of the past four years. Even with the Dodgers often stating that is not in the plans, which they’ve done so again this October.