LOS ANGELES — Hyun-Jin Ryu is reaching unfamiliar territory with his workload and, whether as a direct correlation or sheer coincidence, has struggled in recent starts, allowing 11 runs over his last 10 innings. In hopes of mitigating potential fatigue, the Los Angeles Dodgers are considering the possibility of either skipping one of Ryu’s upcoming turns through the rotation, lengthening the amount of days between starts or shortening his outings moving forward. “I’ll have that conversation with Hyun-Jin,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “and we’ll see what’s best for him.”
Ryu, a frontrunner for the National League Cy Young Award for most of the season, is already up to 152 2/3 innings, his highest total since contributing 192 as a rookie in 2013. Over the last four years, while dealing with severe injuries to his shoulder, elbow and groin, Ryu accumulated only 213 21/3 innings.
The 32-year-old left-hander was charged with four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 17 and seven earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against the New York Yankees on Friday, increasing his ERA from 1.45 to 2.00. Prior to suffering his fourth loss against the Yankees at Dodger Stadium, Ryu had surrendered only seven earned runs in 77 2/3 innings at home all season.
Ryu stated that he is “healthy.”
“I don’t feel any fatigue at the moment,” he said through a translator. “Our team does a great job of giving me extra days of rest, so I actually feel fresh.”
Roberts generally agreed, acknowledging that Ryu has had a hard time commanding all of his pitches but adding that his velocity remains on par. The Dodgers will have four off-days in their first 19 days of September. Roberts would like to ensure that his top three starters — Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Ryu — remain on a regular schedule through that, though the days off make it easier to skip their turns.
Rookies Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin can help fill in. Julio Urias, extended to about three innings and set to return from suspension on Sept. 1, and Rich Hill, who threw a 27-pitch bullpen session in his return from an elbow injury, can also help fill the gap.
Roberts, speaking prior to Saturday’s game against the Yankees, said Ryu has “done a good job of keeping himself strong, so I don’t think fatigue is the reason he hasn’t thrown the ball well.”