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Ryu Hyun-jin wins 5th win of this season against Pittsburgh  

Ryu Hyun-jin wins 5th win of this season against Pittsburgh  

Posted August. 26, 2017 07:03,   

Updated August. 26, 2017 07:09

The ace pitcher of the Los Angeles Dodgers is Clayton Kershaw (29). He has posted an amazing overall record of 15 wins and two losses and an ERA of 2.04 this season, until he had to temporarily leave the mound due to waist injury in late July. These days, Ryu Hyun-jin (30) is filling the vacuum left by Kershaw by displaying stellar performance. Ryu garnered his 5th win (six losses) in this season by showing quality pitching that entailed four hits and one run during six innings in an away game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursay.


Ryu had performed poorly to post three wins and six losses and an ERA of 4.21 in the first half, but he has become a completely new player after the All Star games. He has displayed performance in the second half, comparable to that Kershaw had achieved in the first half.


Ryu has two wins and no losses in the six games in the second half. He became the winning pitcher only twice due to slumping performance of his team’s batters, but his team has won all six games thanks to Ryu's quality pitching in every game. He now has 1.54 of ERA and 1.07 of WHIP (Walks plus Hits Divided by Innings Pitched). The only player who has a higher ERA than Ryu among the starting pitchers who has pitched six innings or more in games in the second half is Geo Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals.


The key to Ryu’s outstanding performance is a significant drop in the number of multi-base hits that he has given to rival team players in the second half. He gave 15 homers while pitching in 72 and two third of innings in the first half, but only allowed one homer during 35 innings in the six games in the second half. All four hits that he gave on the day were also single-base hits. His ERA in the season improved from 3.45 to 3.34.


Ryu took the mound for the first time after having a four-day rest since a game against the Detroit Tigers on Sunday last week, but he displayed rock-solid performance. Except that he gave one walk and two hits in the second inning, he handled the Pirates’ batters without facing any notable crisis. He pitched a balanced mix of his various pitches, namely fastball (31), cutters (21), curves (20), change-ups (17) and sliders (4), to confuse the timing of swinging by the opponent team’s batters. Notably, he caused batters to hit 12 grounders in total by banking on his specialty pitches that plunge into the strike zone, including cutters and changeups. The maximum speed of his fastball pitches was 150 kilometers per hour.  


Ryu also performed well in batting for the first time in weeks. In the second inning, he successfully bunted to send his team’s runner on the first base to lay the foundation for his team to garner its first run. He even had a clean hit towards the opponent team’s left-handed relief pitcher Steven Brault in the sixth inning when his team was leading 2-1. It was his fourth hit in the season.  


The Dodgers, which won the game 5-2, has become the first team to garner 90 wins overall among the 30 Major League teams. As of Thursday, the Dodgers has 90 wins of the 126 games it has played, a feat that the team has achieved at the earliest time ever in its history. Ryu, who added two strikeouts on the day, secured his 100th strikeout in this season, and continued its four-game winning streak against the Pirates.


“Ryu Hyun-jin is a player who is stronger in high profile games,” Dodgers manager Roberts Dave said in commending Ryu, but stopped short of saying on whether he will include Ryu in his team’s roster for post-season events. “What I should do as a starting pitcher is to exert all-out efforts to ensure that our team wins in games,” Ryu said, adding, “My position in the post season is not something that I can decide by myself.”

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com