South Korean hurler Ryu Hyun-jin’s first Major League Baseball postseason ended on a sour note in St. Louis, as his Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated in the National League Championship Series following their 9-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6.
Ryu made two starts in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 10 innings pitched. Ryu was lined up to start Game 7 if the Dodgers won to stay alive.
In his postseason debut on Oct. 6 against the Atlanta Braves at home in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Ryu was tagged for four earned runs on six hits and a walk in three innings. The Dodgers went on to claim the game 13-6, despite Ryu’s shortest outing of the year. They eliminated the Braves in four games.
The left-hander bounced back in his next start on Monday against the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLCS at home. He pitched seven shutout innings and gave up only three singles while striking out four, as the Dodgers won 3-0. Ryu earned his first playoff victory and became the first Korean pitcher to win a big league postseason game.
The Dodgers had lost the first two games of the series despite having two former Cy Young Award winners, Zach Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, as starters. The Korean rookie rose to the occasion to keep the Dodgers alive. Los Angeles lost Game 4, but beat St. Louis in Game 5 to extend the series. Kershaw, the NL Cy Young candidate with the league-best 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts during the regular season, was hammered in Game 6.
After spending seven mostly dominant seasons with the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization, Ryu was put up for posting last winter for MLB clubs, and the Dodgers won the bid for the right to negotiate with him. They later inked him to a six-year, $36 million contract.
During the regular season, the southpaw went 14-8 with a 3.00 ERA in 192 innings, with 154 strikeouts and 49 walks. He will likely receive some NL Rookie of the Year consideration. He ranked first in innings pitched and quality starts, and second in ERA among NL rookie pitchers.
Ryu gave the Dodgers a steady dose of solid starts. He made 30 starts and failed to pitch at least five innings just once. He gave up three or fewer earned runs in 25 starts, and had one complete game shutout, on May 28 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Speaking in the clubhouse after the game, Ryu said he was disappointed with the way his season ended.
“Anytime you lose a game, it always hurts,” he said.
“If I had to pitch tomorrow, there would have been a lot of pressure on me.”
Reflecting on his first MLB season, Ryu said he had “no regrets.”
“I put up better numbers than I’d expected when I first signed with the Dodgers and when I joined the team’s spring training,” he said. “I don’t think anybody expected me to win 14 games. I am really satisfied. I am also happy that I spent the entire season without a major injury.”
Ryu faced some early questions about his fitness level, but he said he had no problems with his conditioning.
“When we went to the East Coast I had some jetlag, but I think I should get better next season.”
Ryu added that he doesn’t believe he has to do anything special for next season, and that he is not thinking of adding a new pitch to his arsenal. He currently throws a fastball, slider, curve and changeup.
“I think I’ve done pretty much everything that a big league rookie could experience in his first year,” Ryu said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t make the World Series, but we will try again next year.” (Yonhap News)