Hyun-Jin Ryu is in the midst of a very strong season and one that’s arguably led to him earning recognition as the ace of the Los Angeles Dodgers staff and may culminate with a National League Cy Young Award.
There is some concern about the left-hander moving forward though, as he has a history of arm injuries, and has already thrown 152.2 innings this season. That is the highest mark for Ryu since his rookie season in 2013.
Ryu has shown some minor signs of fatigue in his last two starts, giving up a combined 15 hits and 11 runs in 10 innings to the Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees, who are both potential playoff opponents.
Velocity has never been a strength of Ryu’s, so he has had to rely on his command, and that has not been at its best his last few starts.
Because of that, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the club is considering skipping some of Ryu’s starts, or limiting his pitch count in some of his September outings, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
Roberts said Hyun-Jin Ryu will make his next start on Thursday in Arizona, but might be skipped a start in September (or have his starts shortened) as a precautionary measure to mitigate against fatigue.
“The sign of fatigue is velocity, command and holding your stuff in a game,” said Roberts. “The last two, the command has been kind of compromised a little bit. But talking to the player, the staff, there’s no fatigue. He’s done a great job of keeping himself strong. I don’t think it’s fatigue.”
After giving up seven runs to the Yankees on Friday night, Ryu’s season ERA begins with a two for the first time since early May. Overall in 24 starts this season, the 32-year-old is 12-4 with a 2.00 ERA, 3.18 FIP and 0.98 WHIP with 133 strikeouts and 19 walks in 152.2 innings.
With the emergence of rookies Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin, Julio Urias being built up as a starter and the potential return of Rich Hill, the Dodgers have the luxury of giving Ryu some time off if that’s what is necessary to keep him healthy for October.
May recently moved to the bullpen, but he is returning to the rotation this week against the San Diego Padres to give all of the other starters an extra day of rest.
Allowing May and some of those other arms to get some starts in September should help Roberts and the front office evaluate who the team’s fourth starter will be in the postseason.