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Ryu Hyun-Jin named NL Player of the Week for May

Posted May. 15, 2019 07:36,   

Updated May. 15, 2019 07:36


South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin had a fantastic time last week, throwing eight shutout innings against the Braves on last Wednesday and pitching eight scoreless innings of one-hit ball against the Nationals on Sunday. Acknowledging his performance, the Major League Baseball (MLB) named Ryu as “National League (NL) Player of the Week” for the first time since his Major League debut in 2013.

Ryu earned his first NL Player of the Week honor, according to the MLB on Monday. Along with Ryu, A’s pitcher Mike Fiers and Astros outfielder George Springer were also honored with the award.

Ryu became the fifth Korean player to have earned the honor. Park Chan-ho received the award while playing for the Dodgers in 2000, followed by Kim Byung-hyun (Arizona) in 2002 and Choo Shin-soo on April 20 and Sept. 21, 2010. Most recently, Kang Jung-ho of the Pirates won the award on Sept. 12, 2016.

Ryu is delivering the best performance this season since his debut. He has the stellar 0.73 walks plus hits divided by innings pitched (WHIP), the highest in the MLB and a 1.72 ERA, the third in the MLB. Ryu only allowed three walks and had 54 Ks in 52 and 1/3 innings, boasting the highest strikeout-to-walk ratio of 18.00 in the MLB.

The ESPN likened Ryu to a legend Greg Maddux, a superb control pitcher. Maddux joined the Hall of Fame with 355 wins throughout his career. Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who played with Ryu against the Braves last Wednesday, said in an interview with the ESPN that he had encountered the type of precision being executed by Ryu and it was Greg Maddux. “Ryu's success is a product of expertly sequencing five pitches -- fastball, cutter, sinker, curveball, changeup -- and throwing them to all four quadrants of the strike zone,” the ESPN wrote.

After clinching a victory against the Nationals on Monday, another legend Sandy Koufax was mentioned. According to the MLB, there have been only five times in modern baseball where pitchers had three outings in a row, threw more than eight innings, and allowed no more than one run and four baserunners. The pitchers are Coufax in 1963, Cliff Lee in 2008, Clayton Kershaw in 2015 and 2016, and Ryu Hyun-jin in 2019. They are all southpaws.

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com