Hyun-Jin Ryu has already exceeded expectations. The Dodgers left-hander has been dominate and one of the best pitchers in baseball. The easy thing to do is cash in on him now and sell high. Is this the right thing to do?
For anyone who doesn’t have Ryu on a roster, it’s easy to say sell him and a lot of the reasons make sense. The biggest reason Ryu went in the middle rounds of drafts was his injury history. He missed three months with a groin injury last season and missed time over the last several seasons due to shoulder inflammation, elbow tendonitis and shoulder surgery.
Ryu has already spent time on the Injured List (IL) this season for a groin strain, but he missed the minimum ten days. Ryu hasn’t thrown 150 innings in a season since 2014. After missing the 2015 season due to a torn labrum and limiting him in 2016 where he pitched 4.2 innings, he pitched 126.2 in 2017 and 82.1 innings last season.
Ryu, 32, is 8-1 with a 1.48 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 25.6 percent strikeout rate, and 1.9 percent walk rate. He has walked five in 73 innings. Ryu isn’t allowing a lot of hard contact and has an 11.5 percent swinging strike rate. Ryu was also excellent last season when he was on the mound in 15 starts, going 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 27.5 percent strikeout rate and 4.6 percent walk rate.
Ryu has been lucky with a .253 BABIP and a 92.9 percent strand rate, but even if those regress he could still have an ERA under three and the rest of the skill set looks good. Ryu doesn’t throw hard, but he has excellent command of five pitches. He leads baseball in ERA and is one of two pitchers, Jake Odorizzi is the other, with an ERA less than two.
It has been a tough year for pitching. A lot of the top tier pitchers taken early in drafts have struggled or been injured. Ryu was almost free money. I have Ryu in several leagues and in the leagues with trading, I am reluctant to trade him. I haven’t’ received any overwhelming offers for him. The best one was Jose Ramirez for Ryu a few weeks back and I turned it down. My offense was fine and Ryu has been too good.
Ryu is backed by an excellent defensive team and potent offense. Even if he throws 130 innings, they are going to be mostly great innings. The problem with getting proper value for Ryu is everyone is aware of his injury history. Most people aren’t going to pay for the way he’s been pitching the last two seasons. The Dodgers have been known to manage the IL and place their pitchers on it to give them some time off and with them dominating the division, it’s likely to happen in the summer.
The easy answer is to sell Ryu, but I don’t think it’s right. Every player has a price and if someone is willing to give you a lot for Ryu, it’s fine to sell. There’s always the chance he stays healthy and pitches 150-170 innings. Either way, I am riding the Ryu wave, hopefully to a Fantasy Baseball championship.