If Hyun-Jin Ryu needed a strong finish to his season to seize the Cy Young Award, he supplied one.
The Dodgers left-hander burnished his Cy Young credentials in his final start of the regular season Saturday with seven scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants. He allowed five hits, compiled seven strikeouts, and didn’t walk a batter. The effort required 97 pitches and he even drove in the first run in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win over the San Francisco Giants.
Ryu’s outing lowered his earned-run average to 2.32, assuring he will finish with the lowest ERA in the majors, in 182 2/3 innings across 29 starts. He leads the majors with 10 starts with at least seven scoreless innings and no walks, and owns the lowest walk rate in baseball. His manager thinks he deserves to win the award. Ryu, however, isn’t as effective as a self-promoter as he is a pitcher.
“I honestly think Jacob deGrom deserves it,” Ryu said after the game.
DeGrom is the New York Mets’ ace and the reigning Cy Young Award winner. The right-hander is second to Ryu in ERA at 2.43, but boasts a significantly higher strikeout rate and threw 21 1/3 more innings. His 7.0 FanGraphs WAR leads the National League.
Ryu highlighted the metrics, the innings, and the strikeouts, complimenting deGrom on an “incredible” season. He then walked back his initial take.
“But I’m not saying you should vote for him,” Ryu said. “It was more of a suggestion. I’m not the one who makes that vote. And I usually don’t like to vote myself in any type of thing so that’s the reason why I said it that way.”
Manager Dave Roberts had no problem vouching for Ryu, insisting Ryu faced more difficult opponents in more challenging environments for pitchers.
“I think, for me, he’s the frontrunner in the Cy Young,” Roberts said. “I think there’s an unfortunate East Coast bias going on.”
Whether or not Ryu wins the award, his conclusion to the regular season was encouraging for the Dodgers. After a four-start stretch in which he allowed 21 runs in 19 innings and prompted the Dodgers to skip his turn in the rotation, Ryu resembled the elite pitcher from the season’s first four months over his final three appearances.
Ryu logged at least seven innings in each outing. He allowed three runs and tallied 21 strikeouts while not walking a batter. On Saturday, he flummoxed an overwhelmed Giants lineup with pinpoint command.
“It was really fun to watch him make pitches today,” Roberts said. “This is as good as he was in the first half, really. Just the feel of the baseball. All quadrants. He had a good rhythm, tempo. Got a lot of soft contact.”
Ryu’s next start will be in one of the first three games of the National League Division Series. Last year, he got the ball for Game 1. This year, the Dodgers could elect to give him extra rest. Whether or not he pitches Game 1, Ryu has been the ace for a club with 105 wins, equaling a franchise record, and maybe a Cy Young award winner.
“It definitely would be unbelievable,” Ryu said. “It would be very surprising. But I think this year has been more of a successful and productive year for me regardless if I get it or not. It would be a testament to my hard effort and the type of production I was able to put out throughout the year if I do win the Cy Young award.”