Hyun-jin Ryu got his first taste of Southern California Major League Baseball in his start versus the Angels at Anaheim Stadium on Thursday evening. Number 99 pitched four perfect innings while striking out four Angels with 47 pitches. Thursday’s Freeway Series game will be Ryu’s last opportunity to tune up before he makes his Major League debut for the Dodgers on April 2nd versus the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
The number one pitcher from Korea has been solid this Spring. While some questioned his size and whether he was in shape when he arrived at Camelback Ranch back in February, it looks as though his conditioning program has been just fine as he readies to debut as a Dodger. Ryu even was able to continue some of his traditional workout regimen which includes skipping bullpen sessions between starts. Ryu has a record of 2-2 this Spring in Cactus League play with a 3.86 ERA in 5 games started (going into Thursday’s game). He has struck out 23 batters while walking 8 and has allowed one homerun over 23 1/3 innings.
While a lot of the focus in camp has been over Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley‘s elbows, I’ve been more excited about Ryu’s journey from Korean baseball to the MLB than those other stories. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Billingsley and I look forward to seeing Greinke pitch for the Dodgers, but there is something different and a bit new about the addition of Ryu. Maybe it’s because we have been starved of these international talents for so long by Frank McCourt. Or perhaps I just miss Hiroki Kuroda‘s work ethic and reliability. I also think it has to do with the fact that the 26-year old is a power lefty. You can never have too many of those gems.
Don Mattingly had this to say about Ryu’s progress over the Spring:
“He’s pitched good pretty much every time. He’s gotten better and better as we’ve went along.”
Once April 2nd comes, Ryu feels that things will be ramped up including the velocity on his fastball and the command of his pitches since he will be more focused.
The southpaw will be joined by his mother, father, and his brother in Los Angeles during the season.
Ryu had no trouble retiring the Angels including Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Albert Pujols on Thursday night. The world will be watching Tuesday evening as he sets his sight on the reigning World Champions including M.V.P. Buster Posey.