After closing out his injury-plagued 2018 campaign on a strong note, Hyun-Jin Ryu opted against testing free agency and accepted a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers — paving the way for the left-hander’s sixth season with the organization.
Betting on himself to replicate those results, Ryu did that and more at the forefront of the Dodgers starting rotation, posting a 14-5 record, MLB-best 2.32 ERA, 3.10 FIP and 1.01 WHIP with 163 strikeouts against 24 walks in 182.2 innings pitched (29 starts).
The 32-year-old additionally led all of baseball in ERA+ (179) and walks per nine innings (1.2) while accumulating a career-best 5.1 WAR (Baseball-Reference).
On the heels of a career year, Ryu now finds himself in the mix to potentially win his first career National League Cy Young Award at the conclusion of the season.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reiterated his stance that Ryu should take home honors, but thinks voters will be more inclined to choose a pitcher from an East Coast team, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I think for me he’s the frontrunner for the Cy Young. There’s an unfortunate East Coast bias going on.”
While Ryu was dominant for the majority of the 2019 season, he uncharacteristically struggled in August to the tune of a 7.48 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in four starts — inflating his overall statistics as a result. He also missed some time due to separate groin and neck injuries.
Many believed Ryu’s performance during the month had opened the door for other candidates to potentially emerge as new favorites in NL Cy Young voting, such as New York Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom and Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
deGrom, who captured NL Cy Young Award honors last year, finished the year with an 11-8 record, 2.43 ERA, 2.67 FIP and 0.97 WHIP in 204 innings pitched (32 starts).
Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner himself, compiled an 11-7 record, 2.92 ERA, NL-best 2.45 FIP and 1.03 WHIP with 243 strikeouts against 33 walks in 172.1 innings pitched (27 starts).
Other pitchers that could garner votes include Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin of the Nationals and St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Jack Flaherty.
As for Ryu’s opinion on the NL Cy Young Award race, he previously stated that deGrom should win this year’s honor, citing the amount of innings and strikeouts he accumulated as important factors.