Hyun-Jin Ryu's return will have Dodgers' bullpen dominoes in motion

Hyun-Jin Ryu's return will have Dodgers' bullpen dominoes in motion
Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow could be on his way back to the minor leagues despite a stellar start to the season. (Mark Kolbe / Getty Images)

Gushing is so unbecoming, unless you know, they're gushing about you. Then a modest amount is permitted, or required.

Manager Don Mattingly seemed almost giddy Friday when describing Hyun-Jin Ryu’s simulated game and previous bullpen session.

"His 'pen the other day was just ridiculous," Mattingly said. "A guy who hadn't thrown in 12 days throws the ball wherever he wants."

You look marvelous!


It hardly sounded like Mattingly felt Ryu would need a rehab start before coming off the disabled list (sore shoulder) to rejoin the rotation. Friday's simulated game would put him on track for a start Wednesday.

The Dodgers released their pitching schedule for the next series in New York against the Mets on Saturday and it still showed left-hander Paul Maholm slated to start Wednesday. They write these things with pencil.

Monday's an off day, so the Dodgers have options, but it seems clear Ryu will join the rotation next week and Maholm will be moved to the bullpen. Which, naturally, means a reliever has to go.

This is the game within the game teams play all season. Unless someone is injured and goes on the DL — conveniently or otherwise — an uncomfortable call is going to have to be made.

The reliever with the worst numbers remains Brian Wilson (9.45 ERA, 2.33 WHIP), the man who was signed to be the eighth-inning guy. But unless he’s talked into another DL assignment so he can go down for a couple of weeks to hone his form, he’s not going anywhere.

The only reliever with options left is Chris Withrow, who’s done nothing wrong but remains the leading candidate to be moved from a very veteran bullpen. Opponents are hitting only .102 against Withrow. He also has a strikeout ratio of 11.8 per nine innings (second on the team to Kenley Jansen’s 14.9) and a 1.16 WHIP.

These things remain in flux all season, so optioning Withrow doesn't mean he would not be back shortly. Which is a long ways from a guarantee.

It was equally difficult to imagine left-hander Paco Rodriguez being sent down, and although he was not sharp while with the Dodgers this season (6.43 ERA, 1.86 WHIP), he hasn't show many signs of turning it around with triple-A Albuquerque (6.00 ERA, 1.83 WHIP).

But Ryu is coming, and that means someone is going. Maybe even accompanied by some gushing.