After watching Hyun-Jin Ryu labor through another start, the Los Angeles Dodgers committed to providing him with extra rest for a fifth time in as many turns. By pushing him back from the Baltimore Orioles series, it set the stage for a postseason-like matchup with the New York Mets.
The weekend series at Citi Field began with Clayton Kershaw and Noah Syndergaard starting opposite one another, followed by Ryu and Jacob deGrom, and Walker Buehler and Zack Wheeler will duel for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball telecast.
In addition to going nine days between starts, Ryu again threw a bullpen session. While that’s a common practice, the 32-year-old has skipped the routine throughout his career, save for a few rare instances.
After a dominant outing against the Mets, the left-hander acknowledged the likely benefit of pitching on extra rest and highlighted his bullpen session as being key, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“It’s hard to argue with the statement that the time off helped with these results, and having the extra bullpen session to work on the things I had to improve on definitely helped,” said Ryu. “It’s hard to say one or the other, and the bullpen session was especially helpful because I was able to explore some of the ways to work on my delivery.”
Ryu, who was running away with a likely National League Cy Young Award, took the mound Saturday night having pitched to a 9.95 ERA in his past four starts. However, he looked like his dominant self over seven shutout innings against the Mets.
Ryu scattered two hits, had six strikeouts and retired the final 13 batters faced. His patented changeup was located well and helped induce soft contact throughout the outing. Todd Frazier’s drive to the warning track in the fifth inning represented the Mets’ best chance to score off Ryu.
It can also be reasoned Ryu benefitted from pitching to Russell Martin. Ryu has a 2.04 ERA when Martin has been behind the plate this weekend, and a 5.81 ERA when being caught by Will Smith.
Unfortunately for Ryu and the Dodgers, his stellar effort was all for naught as the bullpen — specifically Joe Kelly and Julio Urias — set the table for the Mets behind two hit batsmen and a walk that led to Rajai Davis’ game-winning three-run double.
Of course, the significance of the los pales in comparison to the encouraging showing from Ryu.