Yesterday, after we learned that Hyun-jin Ryu was sent to the disabled list due to an inflamed shoulder, there was a momentary panic. Shoulder injuries for pitchers are never good, and shoulders are a lot more difficult to fix than elbows. However, the team has stated that the injury is minor. Further comfort came from the fact that this is not Ryu’s first time dealing with shoulder inflammation. Via Ken Gurnick:
Ryu said he experienced the same discomfort in the middle of his shoulder blade while pitching in Korea in 2011, and he was “back on track” in 10 days. He said it already feels better than it did earlier in the week.
While that statement is comforting (but not unlike what we heard when Clayton Kershaw first hit the disabled list), we can check the accuracy thanks to these game logs. Ryu’s initial shoulder issue occurred on June 28, 2011. Here is the rest of his 2011 season:
The first thing to notice: The injury forced him to sit out for 19 days, not 10. Maybe he meant 10 in addition to his normal rest? This isn’t a big deal, since Ryu will be on DL for 15 days either way. The bigger issue is that it doesn’t look like Ryu returned at full strength. He returned in the bullpen. Between the injury on June 28th and his start on September 8th, Ryu only pitched 3-2/3 relief innings. He did not pitch at all between August 2nd and September 2nd after allowing three runs and getting one out.
While we can’t be 100% sure that Ryu’s shoulder was the only cause of the extra time off and the reduced workload, it isn’t a great sign. Dan of MyKBO states that he believes that the second period of time off was for additional rest and to fully recover from the shoulder issue.
If there’s any silver lining in these game logs, it’s that Ryu returned for three good starts at the end of the season. His ERA in the 22-2/3 post-injury innings was 1.99 (compared to 3.73 in 101-1/3 pre-injury innings), but his K/9 rate dropped from 9.68 pre-injury to 7.15 post-injury. Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to his velocity. The post-injury sample is small, but at least he didn’t unravel.
The shoulder injury Ryu experienced in 2011 hasn’t really impacted him long-term, as we have been lucky enough to see so far. But, unfortunately, the impact wasn’t as minor as previously stated.
Thanks to Dan from MyKBO for providing the game logs and answering my questions about Ryu. Go follow him on twitter if you want to see bat flips and fun stuff from Korean baseball, including what Josh Bell is up to these days.