Dodgers @ Tigers July 8, 2014: Hyun-jin Ryu And A Former Mismatch

Today’s series opener between the Dodgers and Tigers features two starting pitchers in very different places of their careers. Hyun-jin Ryu and Justin Verlander are slated to face each other, and here are each player’s 2014 seasons to date:

Verlander: 116-2/3 IP, 117 ERA-, 101 FIP-, 114 xFIP-

Ryu: 96-1/3 IP, 89 ERA-, 85 FIP-, 92 xFIP-

Dodgers
Tigers
4:08 p.m. PT
Detroit, Mich.
2B
Gordon
CF
Jackson
RF
Puig
2B
Kinsler
DH
Ramirez
1B
Cabrera
1B
Gonzalez
DH
J. Martinez
LF
Kemp
RF
Hunter
CF
Ethier
3B
Castellanos
3B
Uribe
C
Avila
C
Ellis
SS
Suarez
SS
Rojas
LF
Davis

On a rate basis, Ryu has been a significantly better pitcher this year. By FIP-based value, they’re tied (Verlander has made two more starts and gone a bit deeper into games on average). Even the Rest-of-Season Steamer projections, which is designed to be “sticky” and still takes Verlander’s peak into account, project Ryu to be only slightly worse than Verlander going forward on a rate basis, and it’s extremely close. It’s pretty amazing for a matchup which would be viewed as a complete mismatch at the beginning of last season to be so close now.

Verlander was the undisputed “best pitcher in baseball” before Clayton Kershaw took the mantle, but so far this season he has shown significant indicators of decline. His average fastball velocity during his last start was 92.59 MPH. In 2014, his average fastball velocity is 94.12 MPH. During Verlander’s “peak” years (2009-2012), the fastball averaged between 95 to 96.5 MPH. In that peak, Verlander struck out 25.5% of the batters he faced (9.22 K/9). This year, amidst concern about a league-wide increase in strikeouts, he’s striking out just 17.3% of the batters he faces (6.87 K/9).

Meanwhile, Hyun-jin Ryu is one of the more under-appreciated pitchers in baseball. His park-adjusted FIP is better than those of David Price and Zack Greinke. His numbers are almost identical to last season’s, except he’s walking fewer batters. That’s not to say that he “should be an all star” or something, but it seems like people away from Los Angeles don’t necessarily hear much about him. Even with Josh Beckett having a crazy ERA at the moment, Ryu would likely be the go-to choice for the third starter in a playoff series if everybody remains healthy. On a team this deep, that’s a pretty strong compliment.

Speaking of Josh Beckett, he was placed on the 15 day disabled list with a left hip impingement this afternoon. Since the all-star break is next week, it is possible that Beckett will miss only one start. It’s pretty amazing that Beckett has been dealing with a series of injuries this season, none of which have been related to the major surgery he had last season. Clayton Kershaw had a similar injury at the end of the 2012 season, which caused him to miss one start.

The Dodgers have not announced which starter will take Beckett’s place on Saturday (Red Patterson seems like the most likely candidate if the Dodgers opt to go the spot-start route). In the meantime, the Dodgers have recalled Pedro Baez to add manpower to the bullpen.

In news which is way more fun, Yasiel Puig is going to be in the home run derby. As a result, I guess I’ll actually have to watch the home run derby. I don’t put a ton of stock into “home run derby screws up your swing,” since the home run derby frequently selects players who have not regressed to any sort of HR/FB mean yet. Either way, next Monday will be very fun to watch.

Mon 8/25Tues 8/26Wed 8/27Thurs 8/28Fri 8/29Sat 8/30Sun 8/31
RP. Baez-15-1320
RK. Correia--22
RC. Frias--11
RY. Garcia
LJ.P. Howell-10-912
RK. Jansen-12-
RB. League-20-11
RC. Perez
RB. Wilson--65
RJ. Wright-4-1511

About

Daniel Brim grew up in the Los Angeles area and remains a Dodger fan despite currently residing in Salem, MA. As an engineer, he’s fascinated by the math and science behind the game of baseball, which probably explains a lot. He started “Blog To The Score” in late 2013 to dig deeper into the numbers behind the Dodgers. In its brief lifespan, it gained attention from local and national media. You can find him spending too much time in the comments section or on Twitter.