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Dodgers Dugout: A closer look at Hyun-Jin Ryu’s amazing season

Dodgers Nationals Baseball
Hyun-Jin Ryu
(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and the Dodgers are on pace to finish with 107 wins. The franchise record is 105 by the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

The amazingness of Hyun-Jin Ryu continued on Sunday when he came off the injured list to pitch seven shutout innings in a 9-3 win over Arizona. For the season, Ryu is now 12-2 with a 1.45 ERA. He has given up 116 hits and walked only 17 in 142.2 innings, striking out 121.

In this era of home runs and launch angles, it is truly a great season. But how great? Let’s take a look at ERA+, a stat I have used often in the newsletter. It allows us to compare performances from different time periods. For example, if a pitcher has a 2.80 ERA in a league that averages a 4.00 ERA, then he will have a much better ERA+ than a pitcher who has an ERA of 2.70 in a league that averages a 3.00 ERA. It’s all about context. ERA+ compares a pitcher’s ERA to the average ERA that season and makes an adjustment for home ballpark. A pitcher with an ERA+ of 150 is 50% better than the average pitcher that year. Have an ERA+ of 50? Then that pitcher is 50% worse than average.

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Here are the best ERA+ numbers of any Dodger since 1901, minimum 142 innings (through Sunday):

2019 Hyun-Jin Ryu, 284

2016 Clayton Kershaw, 237

2015 Zack Greinke, 222

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1959 Roger Craig, 205

2014 Clayton Kershaw, 197

2013 Clayton Kershaw, 194

1966 Sandy Koufax, 190

1928 Dazzy Vance, 190

1930 Dazzy Vance, 189

1964 Sandy Koufax, 186

And here are the best ERA+ numbers since 1901, any team, minimum 142 innings:

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2000 Pedro Martinez, 291

2019 Hyun-Jin Ryu, 284

1914 Dutch Leonard, 279

1994 Greg Maddux, 271

1979 Jim Kern, 264

1995 Greg Maddux, 260

1913 Walter Johnson, 259

1968 Bob Gibson, 258

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1906 Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown, 253

1986 Mark Eichhorn, 246

This season, Ryu has made 22 starts. He has pitched at least six innings in 19 of them, allowed no runs in eight starts, one run in five starts, two runs in seven starts, three runs in one start and seven runs in one start.

Now, you may be preparing an email to me right now asking me, “You aren’t trying to tell me this is the best pitching season in Dodger history, are you?” No, I’m not. I do believe that Sandy Koufax having an ERA+ of 190 over 300+ innings is more impressive than Ryu’s ERA+ over 142.2 innings. But we are watching a historic season right now. I just want to make sure everyone is appreciating it while they bite their nails over the bullpen.

Ask Orel Hershiser … canceled

Some members of the Dodgers’ brain trust were extremely unhappy with my comments on the TV deal in the last newsletter. I offered them the option to respond in the newsletter and they declined. A few hours after the Dodgers’ displeasure was made known, Orel Hershiser, citing his desire to remain out of the middle of it, contacted me to cancel his “Ask Orel Hershiser” segment that was planned for this space, even though the questions were coming from fans and not from me and none of the questions were about the TV situation. My apologies to the hundreds of you who sent in questions. You can try tweeting your question to him on Twitter @OrelHershiser and maybe he will answer there.

Kenley Jansen

Yes, I know, he blew another save over the weekend. We’ll take a closer look at him next time. Just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring it.

Why was Casey Sadler sent to the minors?

Casey Sadler, who has been arguably the Dodgers’ most effective reliever for the last month, was sent to the minors on Sunday to make room for Ryu coming off the IL. Why send Sadler down? Well, Yimi Garcia is out of options, so if they sent him down, another team would certainly snatch him up. Also, the Dodgers want to take a closer look at other relievers, such as JT Chargois, as they spend the next six weeks figuring out who will be in the postseason bullpen. As Dave Roberts said about Sadler, “It was strictly a numbers issue, it certainly wasn’t performance. He’s an optionable player, and we wanted to get a look at some other guys.”

These names seem familiar

Here’s how players who were with the Dodgers last season and earlier this season are doing around the majors this year (through Sunday):

Travis d’Arnaud, Rays, .266/.338/.502, 120 OPS+

Brian Dozier, Nationals, .232/.332/.422, 92 OPS+

Kyle Farmer, Reds, .256/.296/.451, 88 OPS+

Logan Forsythe, Rangers, .252/.359/.411, 96 OPS+

Yasmani Grandal, Brewers, .250/.370/.467, 115 OPS+

Daniel Hudson, Nationals, 6-3, 2.87 ERA, 3 saves

Tim Locastro, Diamondbacks, .247/.357/.344, 84 OPS+.

Matt Kemp, released by Mets.

Manny Machado, Padres, .265/.335/.483, 114 OPS+

Yasiel Puig, Indians, .263/.313/.484, 101 OPS+

Alex Wood, Reds, 1-0, 5.65 ERA

Best record in baseball

The Dodgers are clinging to a narrow lead in the NL West, so let’s take a look at the race for best record in baseball, which will be used to determine home-field advantage in the World Series:

Dodgers, 79-41, ---

New York Yankees, 78-41, 0.5 GB

Houston Astros, 77-41, 1 GB

Minnesota Twins, 71-47, 7 GB

Cleveland Indians, 71-47, 7 GB

The first tiebreaker for World Series home-field advantage is head-to-head record, which makes the upcoming three games at home against the Yankees (Aug. 23-25) very important. The second tiebreaker is best record against teams in their respective division (Dodgers vs. NL West) and the third tiebreaker is best record against teams in their own league (Dodgers vs. NL teams).

Dodgers poll

We asked, “Which team has the best 1-2-3 rotation in baseball? Is it Houston, with Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke and Gerrit Cole; Washington with Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin; the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Walker Buehler; or some other team?”

After 13,260 votes, here are the results:

Dodgers, 53.8%

Houston, 37.7%

Washington, 7.4%

Other, 1.1%

The New York Mets drew most of the votes for “other,” with one poor person apparently stuck in a time loop voting for “Koufax, Drysdale and Osteen.”

In case you missed it

Some stories you might want to catch up on:

Dodgers release their 2020 schedule

Column: Dodgers games on YouTube give fans what DirecTV and Spectrum won’t

Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw keep 9-year-old from giving up baseball

More KTLA games

Five more Dodger games will be televised on KTLA Ch. 5 this season. They are:

Saturday, Aug. 31, 5 p.m. at Arizona

Saturday, Sept. 7, 6 p.m. vs. San Francisco

Saturday, Sept. 14, 4 p.m. at New York Mets

Saturday, Sept. 21, 6 p.m. vs. Colorado Rockies

Saturday, Sept. 28, 1 p.m. at San Francisco

Up next

All times Pacific

Tonight: Dodgers (*Clayton Kershaw) at Miami (Jordan Yamamoto), 4 p.m.

Wednesday: Dodgers (Dustin May) at Miami (Elieser Hernandez), 4 p.m.

Thursday: Dodgers (Walker Buehler) at Miami (*Caleb Smith), noon

*-left-handed

And finally

Dodgers win the 1981 World Series. Watch it here.

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston. Subscribe to this newsletter by clicking here.


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