Coming into Spring Training, the Los Angeles Dodgers were in position to hold a competition for the fifth starter job. The rotation that lost Zack Greinke boasted plenty of depth, aided in part by the signings of Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda.
While the Dodgers did appear to have a surplus of starting pitchers, one option — Hyun-Jin Ryu — was coming off surgery to repair a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Ryu was checking off all the boxes in his recovery, but hit a snag and was temporarily shutdown with soreness.
The setback equated to Ryu’s return not expecting to take place until some point in May. Coupled with the litany of injuries to starting pitchers throughout camp, the Dodgers’ rotation is in a tough spot with Opening Day less than one week away.
At this stage, the Dodgers are looking for a temporary replacement while Anderson, McCarthy and Ryu are hopeful to return near the All-Star break. Of the trio, Ryu is expected to be the first who will join the rotation, assuming he doesn’t suffer any other setbacks in his recovery.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts outlined what’s ahead for Ryu in his quest to pitch in the regular season, via Doug Padilla of ESPN:
Manager Dave Roberts said Ryu will throw a final bullpen session Wednesday and then start facing hitters in live batting practice by the weekend. … Asked if Ryu is essentially on a spring training timetable now, when pitchers would transition to live BP once position players arrived in camp, Roberts said, ‘That’s fair.’
Ryu completed a bullpen session with increased velocity, and built on that to recently advance to throwing breaking balls. At this stage, he’s roughly five or six weeks away from being ready to pitch in a Major League game.
Roberts said earlier this month Ryu’s goals of returning in May and making 20 starts this season were unrealistic. Ryu was a combined 28-15 with a 3.17 ERA, 2.97 FIP and 1.19 WHIP in 56 starts over his first two seasons with the Dodgers.