While the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t make the splash signing of Bryce Harper like most anticipated during the past offseason, Hyun-Jin Ryu accepting their qualifying offer wound up being a monumental decision.
After tossing seven shutout innings against the San Francisco Giants in his final regular-season start on Saturday afternoon, Ryu finished the year 14-5 with an MLB-best 2.32 ERA to go along with a 1.01 WHIP and 163 strikeouts compared to just 24 walks over 182.2 innings.
Ryu has been the leading National League Cy Young candidate for most of the season, although a rough four-start patch in August raised his ERA by almost a full run. Reigning Cy Young winner, New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom, has also been outstanding as he leads the league in many categories.
Washington Nationals right-hander Max Scherzer has also pitched his way into the Cy Young conversation. When asked about the prestigious award, Ryu deferred to deGrom as being the worthy winner, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“It’s a very tough question, obviously,” said Ryu, 14-5 after firing seven scoreless innings. “I honestly think Jacob deGrom deserves it. Considering all of the metrics, he had an incredible year, especially innings and strikeouts. Those two are really important factors. But I’m not saying you should vote for him. It was more of a suggestion. You still have the vote in your hand. … I usually don’t like to vote for myself in anything.”
Even if he doesn’t win the award, Ryu still believes his 2019 season can be considered an extremely successful one, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“Definitely would be unbelievable, would be very surprising. But I think this year has been more of a successful and productive year for me regardless of whether I get it or not. It would be a testament to my hard effort and the type of production that I was able to put out throughout the year if I do actually get the National League Cy Young Award.”
deGrom has made three more starts than Ryu this season (32) and leads the league in strikeouts (255) and WHIP (0.97) while ranking second in ERA (2.43).
While awards are great, the Dodgers’ primary focus is on winning the World Series, and Ryu is among the players who have expressed that sentiment.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has not revealed what the rotation order will be for the NL Division Series, but considering how great Ryu has been at Dodger Stadium this season, he will likely pitch one of the first two games.