Tough offseason, this. Rough. Not great. Brett Anderson and Chase Utley returned, and Aroldis Chapman and Hisashi Iwakuma arrived until they didn’t, and Zack Greinke… well, look, you know the details. It’ll get better right when it does, but for now, it’s not. So let’s allow ourselves some holiday good cheer and take at total face value the optimistic words of Hyun-jin Ryu:
“I have no reason to believe I won’t be ready for Spring Training,” Ryu said.
“Other than throwing off a mound and going all out, I pretty much can do everything I want to do. I’m on a great program and everything is going great. No discomfort, absolutely nothing.”
Ryu said he is playing catch up to 120 feet, restricted only by athletic trainers who want Ryu ready in February, not December.
“I feel so good, I feel I could do it stronger, but I trust the trainers and medical staff with what they tell me to do,” he said. “I’m sure in time, I will get back on the mound.”
Which is great. It’s also totally meaningless until you see it in action, and in no way means the Dodgers don’t need at least one starting pitcher and very likely two, but still. After all, it was only less than a year ago that I was writing this:
Let’s move on to a two-year comparison with another lefty pitcher, one who is constantly rumored to be on the move this winter, as soon as a team agrees to satisfy Philadelphia’s demands for top prospects: Cole Hamels.
Name Ages IP K/BB HR/9 K% BB% K-BB% GB% ERA- FIP- xFIP- ERA FIP xFIP Ryu 26-27 344.0 3.76 0.60 20.7 5.5 15.2 49.2 89 83 87 3.17 2.97 3.27 Hamels 29-30 424.2 3.67 0.74 23.1 6.3 16.8 44.5 82 85 89 3.05 3.17 3.33
Hamels has the obvious edge in innings pitched, and a longer track record to fall back upon, although he’s also more than three years older. Otherwise, these are two pitchers who look extremely similar, with Hamels’ advantage in missing bats somewhat canceled out by Ryu’s ability to get more grounders.
Man, that seems so long ago now. Almost seems crazy. No idea if Ryu makes it back at all, because as he said, one thing he hasn’t actually done is, you know, throw off a mound, which is somewhat related to the profession he’s in. No idea if he’s effective if he does make it back. No idea if we ever see him again. Can’t count on him, certainly. But in a winter that hasn’t gone according to plan in any way, we can at least hold out some hope for the biggest wild card of all. Hyun-jin Ryu, needed now more than ever.