There’s no way to work around the fact that Hyun-Jin Ryu has been bad of late. Over his last 4 starts, the left hander has allowed 21 earned runs in 19 innings pitched. That’s good — or bad — for a 9.95 ERA in that time. Nevertheless, Ryu still leads the majors with a 2.45 season ERA in 161.2 innings pitched. However, he hasn’t appeared in a game since September 4th while he’s been working to get himself straightened out.
Before Saturday’s start, manager Dave Roberts shared his expectations for his ace.
"To get some positive traction is important for him and for us."
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) September 14, 2019
I’d like to see execution — I think he’s worked really hard in his side sessions with [Rick Honeycutt], watching video. And obviously, I think when you’re looking at 3-4 starts to go before the postseason to get some positive traction is important for him and for us.
During Ryu’s struggles, the entire starting rotation has also been struggling along the way. Murmurs have been out there about his apparent struggles working with rookie catcher Will Smith.
Bill Plunkett of the OC Register brings up Ryu’s season stats with all Dodger catchers in 2019.
Notable that Russell Martin is behind the plate for Ryu’s return to the rotation. Ryu has a 1.70 ERA in 18 games with Martin, 5.81 in 5 games with Will Smith
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) September 14, 2019
In terms of innings caught by catcher, it breaks down as follows.
- 116 2/3 IP Russell Martin
- 26 1/3 IP Will Smith
- 13 IP Austin Barnes
- 5 2/3 IP Rocky Gale
The narrative of Will Smith not yet earning the trust of the pitching staff has been lazily thrown out into the ether of social media, but Dodger pitchers disagree with that concept. Namely Clayton Kershaw who says that the starters have just been plain bad during the rough stretch.
It should be noted that Kershaw worked on a winning effort together with Smith Friday night in Flushing.
The concept of personal catchers for pitchers is hardly a new one. The veteran Martin could in fact have a better rapport with the ace lefty, but that may just be because he’s worked with him the most while he was at his best. Will Smith was drafted primarily for his receiving prowess behind the plate and is hardly a poor option for Los Angeles.
Chalk it up to bad luck and timing.