When it was announced that Hyun-Jin Ryu was headed to the DL, the concern over the severity of the injury was limited by comments from the Los Angeles Dodgers and Ryu himself. The left-handed pitcher indicated that he had experienced a similar injury before, and that it was not long before he was “back on track.” The Dodgers said if it were not for the inclement weather in Minnesota causing roster issues, the team may have just skipped Ryu’s spot in the rotation instead of placing him on the DL.
The most recent news, however, is not nearly as positive.
Ken Gurnick of MLB.com is reporting that Ryu has headed back to Los Angeles to visit with the team’s surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache. This should cause a fair amount of concern that Ryu’s injury could be much more severe than both the team and the pitcher had initially anticipated.
The Dodgers have fared well without their ace, Clayton Kershaw, for what essentially amounts to about one-fifth of their season. Ryu, along with Zack Greinke and Dan Haren, has done an excellent job in Kershaw’s absence, and the team has gotten solid starts from Josh Beckett and Paul Maholm, along with spot starts from Red Patterson and Stephen Fife. While the team has proved that they can win without one of their vaunted starting pitchers, it is certainly not ideal to go without any of them from any extended period of time.
If Ryu does indeed need to miss significant time due to a shoulder injury, they would likely use a rotation of Kershaw, Greinke, Haren, Beckett and Maholm. There are questions in the back end of the rotation, however, as Maholm has not exactly been consistent as a starter. On the season, Maholm is 1-2, with a 4.70 ERA and 5.65 FIP.
While Patterson and Fife have been called upon this season when the team has needed a start, the most talented minor league pitcher available is Zach Lee. The young righty has not exactly been sharp so far in the minors, but he held his own in Spring Training against major leaguers, and his 3.75 FIP indicates that he may be pitching better at Triple-A than his other stats show. Should one of the current starters falter, the Dodgers may ultimately turn to Lee to fill in.
Of course, the best case scenario is that Ryu is healthy enough to return after his DL stint is up. It may simply be a matter of conducting due diligence on Ryu’s shoulder to ensure that there are not any other issues causing the pitcher discomfort. Clearly, the Dodger rotation will be much better off if it includes both Kershaw and Ryu at some point in the near future.Tags: Baseball, Clayton Kershaw, Dan Haren, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, Paul Maholm, Red Patterson, Stephen Fife, Zach Lee, Zack Greinke