Having made his ninth pitch against Ryan McMahon, South Korean starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin of the Los Angeles Dodgers lost balance and fell forward on the mound at a Wednesday game between the Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. MBC baseball commentator Kim Byung-hyun spoke worriedly, saying, “Ryu’s balance seems to have broken down.” Ryu said he only missed a step, but it certainly offered a cause to worry about his falling stamina.
Ryu threw 93 balls on the day in four and 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs. The number of walks per game, which was at four, was the worst he has recorded this season. While the Dodgers were leading the game 7-3, Ryu lost his chance to chalk up his 13th win this season as he failed to pitch a full five innings. In the fifth inning, the 32-year-old South Korean allowed two hits in a row, and with two runners on first and second bases with a single out, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decided to give him a rest. This is the third consecutive game that Ryu has failed to pitch more than five innings following, the match against the New York Yankees on August 24 (7 runs in 4 and 1/3 innings) and the one with the Arizona Diamondbacks on August 30 (7 runs in 4 and 2/3 innings). Ryu’s ERA shot up further from 2.35 to 2.45. The prospect of keeping the best ERA in the major league has also become murkier, with Mike Soroka of the Atlanta Braves (2.53) narrowing the gap with Ryu to 0.08.
Ryu tried a different approach to his preparation to shake off the jinx of late, but it didn’t work either. Unlike his usual game days, Ryu warmed up in the bullpen with his pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, adjusting his pitching form. After the game with the Diamondbacks on August 30, Ryu said that the hitters seem to be adjusting to his pitching style, signaling a plan to change his strategy, but his fastballs and breakers remained weak and flat, and the South Korean pitcher began to get battered once the number of pitches passes a threshold.
Once again, he dismissed the concern about his stamina. “It is a matter of balance. I feel that my body is slightly falling forward. I don’t think taking a rest will help. Recovering my control is the top priority,” Ryu said. “I hope Ryu will completely finish the season. I am not worried as we have time before the post season,” said Dave Roberts, expressing his trust in Ryu.
The Dodgers kept the lead and secured a win by 7-3 thanks to relievers’ stable pitching. With Joc Pederson hitting two homers, the Dodgers have sent home a total of 250 home runs this season, setting a new record for the number of team home runs per season in the National League.