ryu_2014-03-30-stands

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s Fun New Toy

ryu_2014-03-30-standsYesterday, we noted how awesome Hyun-jin Ryu was in his start against the Padres, even though the offense and Brian Wilson conspired to blow it for him. And he was! Now we know a bit more about why, thanks to Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register:

Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said Ryu was debuting a new curveball grip he worked on all spring. And, indeed, PITCHf/x data tracked on BrooksBaseball.net measured Ryu’s curveball as having nearly twice as much vertical movement Sunday night as compared to his two playoff outings last October.

“It was the sharpest curveball I’ve seen him throw in the last year and two starts,” Ellis said.

Fun! Let’s investigate. First, via Brooks, it does seem like Ryu’s movement was indeed nasty last night, and do note that this chart is arranged in a way that the lower it is, the more movement there is. (The park in Australia didn’t have PITCHf/x cameras installed, obviously, so we’re limited to just yesterday.)

ryu_curve_brooks

Ryu threw 13 curves last night, and it’s easy to show that the Padres did nothing with them. Four were balls, four were called strikes, two were fouls, two were swinging strikes — including a punch-out of Chase Headley — and one was a Chris Denorfia groundout.

Let’s look at the Headley whiff. LOOK AT IT. It’s glorious.

GIF Link

But what’s interesting to me is that while he may very well be using a new grip, as Ellis mentioned, it seems he’s releasing it from a different point as well. Another graph:

ryu_release_brooks

Look how much lower that is. So let’s go back and compare that to last year. Unfortunately, Ryu somehow managed to get through his entire debut season without pitching in San Diego, so the camera angle won’t be identical. Here he is against Gregor Blanco in July instead:

GIF Link

It’s admittedly difficult to see release point differences in GIFs, so I won’t pretend that I do. But what does seem clear is both that the Blanco pitch doesn’t dive as much, and also that it started higher, as it went only to Blanco’s belt, as opposed to below Headley’s knees.

There’s also this: Ryu’s curveball wasn’t really a weapon for him last year. He threw it 295 times, and it got hit hard, to the tune of a .307/.325/.480 line against. And yet, he was still 17th overall in FIP. He was still 14th, tied with Stephen Strasburg, in ERA, and 25th, tied with Justin Verlander, in RA9-WAR. On a team where he wasn’t overshadowed by Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke (and Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez, and…) he might have been viewed as an ace. By some measures, he already was, and now he’s got a fancy new toy and 12 scoreless innings to start the season. I would have taken a repeat of last year and been perfectly happy with that, honestly. If there’s now some hope that he can be even better, well, that’s just not fair.


Mike

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Mike writes about lots of baseball in lots of places, and right now that place is MLB.com.


629 comments
nmdodgersfan
nmdodgersfan

The more I think about it this may be an April fools hoax by the radio station. Which seems like a poor joke because a lot of people will probably drive down to the new ball park

nmdodgersfan
nmdodgersfan

So the padres are playing an exhibition game down the road in el paso this morning against their new affiliate the chihuahuas. Seems like they are cutting it close for an afternoon game back in San diego

nmdodgersfan
nmdodgersfan

Yeah the whole team is in town. They may be tired later.

nmdodgersfan
nmdodgersfan

Yes el paso tx. I'm listening to the local radio station now and they keep talking about it. Game time in an hour

 Kyle
Kyle

Forgot to pay rent. Ffffffff

DaddysDodgers
DaddysDodgers

Jim Bowden has referred to Ryu as an Ace several times. I think it fits. Looking forward to a good season from him.

DaddysDodgers
DaddysDodgers

Not that Bowdens the authority, but.. He said it.

Sheik Your Friend
Sheik Your Friend

That curve is freaky, and looks so cool coming out of his hand

 Kyle
Kyle

@DBrim  Not sure what I'm looking at here. But I'll assume it's impressive.

 Kyle
Kyle

@Lobo  I might hate the Sox more than the Yankees now.

Math Cosmos Feline
Math Cosmos Feline

ugh, please may dodger fans not be behind recent stabbing, please may dodger fans not be behind recent stabbing

Math Cosmos Feline
Math Cosmos Feline

ugh, how come whenever dodger fans were attacked in the bay area, they refused to mention whether it was rivalry related, but with angels and dodgers down here, "yea, let's mention it"

Thinkblue
Thinkblue

Hey guys, why is direct tv teasing me and showing an option for "dodgers broadcast" for tomorrow's game???

Gregory Polanco
Gregory Polanco

As a dignitary from western PA i can't believe Lloyd McClendon managed a major league team to a win.


steelmohawk
steelmohawk

Ugh, today is the day that people who aren't funny think they are.

Carver
Carver

Nobody tell PFP how the A's game ended.

capnsparrow
capnsparrow

@Carver  You mean how Punto went down swinging with a runner on, out on his front foot like a girl?

joelydanger
joelydanger

"A lot of times when you bring a closer in a non-save situation their concentration isn't there"