Hyun-Jin Ryu Dominating on the Diamond
Hyun-Jin Ryu has been flat out dominating opposing hitters in 2019. His ability to get ahead and attack hitters has been a huge aspect of his success. The South-Korean-born southpaw is finally healthy and showcasing the ability to keep hitters guessing. Ryu utilizes a 91-mph four-seam fastball, an exceptional changeup, and an 87-mph cutter to get hitters out. He has also been working in a sinker and a slow curveball. His ability to change locations and mix in different velocities has kept opposing hitters off-balance for the majority of the year.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has dominated in just about every one of his starts. Furthermore, his stats this year make him the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ clear-cut number one pitcher on paper. He is 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA. More impressively, his opponents’ batting average is a mere .189 against him this year. Ryu has had great success this year by attacking hitters and getting ahead in the count. His 54 strikeouts opposed to his three issued walks showcase his ability to get ahead of opposing hitters. Ryu was nearly perfect on May 12th against the Washington Nationals, going eight innings, giving up one hit, and not allowing a run. The Dodgers’ big lefty nicknamed “Monster” has only given up nine hits and one earned run over his last three starts (25 innings).
Playing Second Fiddle
Unless you live on the West Coast or call yourself a Dodger fan, you may not know how dominant Hyun-Jin Ryu has been this season. Many fans may be wondering who Hyun-Jin Ryu even is. Ryu has been playing second fiddle to the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, and Rich Hill over the past couple of years. A contributing factor to this could be the fact that he has not had a healthy season since 2014. If Ryu can stay healthy, he may jump from “fourth-best” pitcher on his team to top three pitchers in the league.
Hyun-Jin Ryu did not have a traditional Major League Baseball draft experience. He was born in Incheon, South Korea. Ryu was a standout High School player and caught the attention of the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). The Eagles selected him in the first round, and he eventually made his professional debut on April 12, 2006. Ryu finished that year with an 18–6 win-loss record, a 2.23 ERA, and 205 strikeouts in 201 2/3 innings pitched. Ryu was eventually named both Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year — the only player to win both in the same season.
Dodgers Win the Lottery
In 2013, Ryu was the hot topic of a bidding war that the Los Angeles Dodgers eventually won. The Dodgers purchased his contract for $25,737,737.33. Many fans were wondering why there were so many sevens and threes in the winning bid. Apparently, the numbers seven and three are considered lucky in Korea. With this in mind, Ryu wanted to ensure that these numbers were a large part of that winning bid.
Fast forward to 2019, and Ryu is dominating major league hitters. It would be easy to say that this year is a fluke. However, the body of work in the KBO and in his first couple of years in the majors says otherwise. If Ryu can stay healthy, he can be a true contender for the Cy Young Award because of his ability to get ahead of hitters. Pairing the dominance of Hyun-Jin Ryu with the explosive offense of the Los Angeles Dodgers can be a dangerous combination for opposing teams. Watch out for the Dodgers and their dominant southpaw pitcher the rest of the year, because they are here to stay. They are a fun team to watch and are finding different ways to win every night.
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