After two productive seasons to begin his Major League career, Los Angeles Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu missed the entire 2015 season and made all of one start in 2016 after undergoing shoulder surgery and then dealing with some elbow issues.
Ryu was able to return and appear in 25 games (24 starts) in 2017, but he didn’t quite look like his old self, which was to be expected considering the multiple arm injuries he suffered. Going into 2018, Ryu looks healthy and is penciled in as the team’s fifth starter.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts believes that Ryu going through an entire offseason in which he wasn’t recovering from injury will lead to him having a strong 2018 campaign. “In talking to Hyun-Jin, he’s really excited to have a regular offseason of not just a rehab,” Roberts said.
“Everything is more profiling where Hyun-Jin used to be. Me personally, I’m expecting him to have a big year.”
Roberts added that unlike 2017, Ryu will not be on any sort of innings restriction this season. “I think last year we were definitely conscious of an innings limit, a pitch count-type thing to manage him,” Roberts explained.
“We’re going to manage him again, but I think it’s more individual game basis on how I feel he’s throwing the baseball. I think the health component, with that box checked, now it’s kind of how stuff is playing through the game.”
Ryu has not pitched that well so far in two Cactus League starts, giving a combined up nine hits and nine runs in 5.2 innings. Most importantly though, after his outing against the Chicago White Sox, Ryu said he is in good healt.
“In terms of how I feel, I feel fine compared to last year,” Ryu said through an interpreter. “Last year, I had some doubts in my mind but this year it’s a full-go, so I’m very happy about it. One thing that is bothering me is I’m not having the innings go up. But besides that, my pitch count is going up, the velocity and how I feel, it’s all great.”
Ryu also believes 2018 will be a good year for him as he is heading into this season without any sort of doubts in his mind about his health. “Because it was my first full year last year (removed from surgery), I didn’t know what to expect or how my body would react to certain types of situation,” he said. So during Spring Training, I had some sort of doubt.
“It’s something I don’t really think about. Then again, if you think about it, maybe I have more arm strength and that might be resulting in better extension. Theoretically, I feel like it wouldn’t be less than last year.”