Largely aided by the pitching depth they assembled during the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers have aired on the side of caution with Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Both pitchers underwent season-ending surgeries (McCarthy – Tommy John; Ryu – torn labrum) last year, and each are expected to contribute at some point during 2016. McCarthy’s operation calls for a longer recovery than Ryu, and the right-hander is hoping to make two starts prior to the 2016 All-Star Game.
In nothing more than a procedural move, McCarthy was placed on the 60-day disabled list on Feb. 19, making June 2 the earliest date he can be reinstated.
As for Ryu, he’s thrown multiple bullpen sessions in camp, though at decreased velocity. The southpaw didn’t expand his workout to include a pitch other than a fastball until Feb. 26 when Ryu began getting over change-ups.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts acknowledged in late-February that Ryu was behind other pitchers in camp. Shortly after, Ryu resigned to the fact he is unlikely to take the mound in a regular-season game until some point in May.
Having last thrown a bullpen session on Feb. 26, the left-hander is dealing with discomfort in his throwing shoulder, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu is being given a few extra days of rest after experiencing some discomfort in his surgically repaired left shoulder.
Despite the discomfort, Roberts doesn’t view the situation as a setback:
“We’re just backing off because he felt something, but this is all part of our cautious plan to bring him back slowly,” said Roberts. “It’s not a setback.”
Without Ryu, the Dodgers are expected to give Alex Wood the first opportunity to fill the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Wood’s time with Los Angeles last season produced mixed results, though he was limited by a nagging bone bruise on his ankle that he’s since fully recovered from.
In two seasons with the Dodgers, Ryu is a combined 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 56 starts. He’s signed through the 2018 season.
Ryu’s contract includes an opt-out clause after 2017 should he total 750 innings pitched through the first five years of the deal, however that benchmark appears unattainable given his health status.