Hyun-Jin Ryu says he understands the logic. He has pitched more innings this year than any since 2014, before a litany of injuries cost him dozens of starts, and his recent performances have only stimulated the theory that he is fatigued. But Monday, the Dodgers left-hander again insisted he is not tiring with a month remaining in the regular season.
“To be completely honest, this year has been really good in terms of conditioning and my health,” Ryu said through his interpreter, Bryan Lee. “Just by the feel of things, I feel really good.”
Ryu spoke three days before his next scheduled start and three days after the New York Yankees pummeled him over 4-1/3 innings. He allowed seven runs against the American League World Series contenders after giving up four runs over 5-2/3 innings to Atlanta. The 11 earned runs allowed in the two starts were as many as he surrendered in his previous 12 starts.
“I’m actually really optimistic about my future just because I wasn’t satisfied with how I pitched,” Ryu said. “If I’m giving up that many runs and hits and I think I’m performing well, that’s one thing. But in those two cases I definitely wasn’t commanding my pitches well and it’s definitely not how i wanted to pitch. So I’m really more focused on internally how I can improve, in terms of commanding my pitches, rather than looking at something on the outside.”
Ryu has logged 152-2/3 innings after recording 213-2/3 regular-season innings the previous four years combined. His career high for a regular season is the 192 innings he accumulated his rookie year in 2013. There’s a chance he won’t reach that total this season even if he doesn’t miss a start.
The Dodgers currently employ a six-man rotation, affording starters an extra day of rest as the club plays 16 games in 16 days. Over the weekend, manager Dave Roberts said the team will either skip Ryu’s turn once or shorten one of his outings in September to avoid weariness. Ryu said he has not spoken with Roberts about any changes to his schedule.
In the background looms the National League Cy Young race. Ryu has been the frontrunner most of the season and perhaps remains so despite his recent hiccups. His 2.00 earned-run average still leads the majors. His 3.18 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is fourth in the league and his walk rate is the best. Max Scherzer is considered Ryu’s chief competitor for the award. The Washington right-hander is second in the majors with a 2.41 ERA and first in the NL in FIP (2.19). But Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, has missed time with injuries and thrown 138-1/3 innings.
“I like to take a game at a time and I don’t think any pitcher goes out there thinking that he’s going to win a Cy Young,” Ryu said. “It’s more of a result that you get after finishing your season strong, so I’m really focused on the next start.”
The race will come down to September and whether Ryu, fatigued or not, can get back on track before the postseason.
Dylan Floro, on the injured list with an intercostal strain, logged a 25-pitch bullpen session Monday at Petco Park. Roberts said the right-handed reliever’s next step is pitching an inning for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. ... Rich Hill will throw his second bullpen session Tuesday since going on the injured list in June with a forearm strain. The left-hander will mix in curveballs after tossing only fastballs in his first session. . . . Catcher Russell Martin is scheduled to rejoin the Dodgers on Tuesday after a three-day stint on the bereavement list. Roberts said the plan is to option Austin Barnes back to triple-A Oklahoma City. Barnes will return when rosters expand Sunday.