Hyun-Jin Ryu Is Developing a Slider, Apparently

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Just imagine what it would be like to face Dodgers‘ southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu if he added a slider to his already wicked arsenal of pitches.

The vision may soon be a reality.

Ken Gurnick reported today that Ryu has been tinkering with a slider, according to skipper Dave Roberts.

As we all know, Ryu has a propensity for learning new pitches quickly. As part of his comeback in 2017, he introduced his cutter to the league mainstream, which led him to his most a fantastic campaign in 2018 in terms of ERA and FIP, despite missing a good portion of the year due to a nasty groin strain. More importantly, the emergence of the cutter allowed him to use his four-seam as a setup pitch rather than his out pitch.

And, believe it or not, the 31-year-old lefty introduced a sinker last year, although he used it sparingly. When he did throw the sinker, it often lacked solid command; however, it’s yet another weapon he can pull out of his bag of tricks when he needs to.

Consequently, we all know how deadly his change and curve ball can be. These are the pitches that allow Ryu to bring home a decent MLB paycheck.

Ryu’s curveball now has more vertical drop than it’s ever had in his career—almost four inches more drop than it had during his limited action in 2017 and about four-and-a-half more inches of drop than the typical MLB curveball. So, not only is he controlling it better, it’s also breaking more than ever.

What’s more, Ryu’s changeup has been his most effective strikeout pitch, generating a 23% whiff rate and 55% chase rate in 2018. If he can find decent command with his sinker and slider while continuing to use his 91 MPH four-seam as a key setup offering, his ceiling will be amazingly high—if he’s able to stay healthy.

Last November, he accepted the club’s $17.9 million qualifying offer, which may turn out to be one of the offseason’s biggest bargains—again, if he remains durable.

During the 2018 regular season, Ryu made 15 starts and posted a 9-7 record, leading the entire club with a 1.97 ERA. He was instrumental in holding the staff together for the first few weeks of the season after the rotation suffered numerous injuries. Consequently, he made a brilliant comeback after the groin injury in late April. In the 2018 postseason, Ryu made four starts and threw an even 19 innings. His best start of the playoffs came in the NLDS against the Braves when he tossed seven shutout innings, striking out eight while surrendering just four hits and no walks.

After recording double-digit wins in each of his first two seasons, Ryu had shoulder surgery and missed his entire 2015 campaign, returning late in 2016 only to re-aggravate his shoulder problems. He made 24 starts in 2017, tallying a not-so-impressive 5-9 record with a 3.77 ERA. However, if he performs close to the peripheral numbers he put up in 2018, he could be one of the leaders of an already very talented staff.


17 thoughts on “Hyun-Jin Ryu Is Developing a Slider, Apparently

  1. Some guys are throwers whose career lasts as long as they can throw hard. Others are pitchers who use multiple pitches, strategies, locations, etc. to get batters out. Ryu is a very talented pitcher and, assuming he is healthy, I could see him pitching well into his late 30’s. I love the fact that at this age and level of experience he is developing a new pitch.

  2. Maybe he can teach Ferguson how to throw it as well. He’d be awesome with a slider to go with that curve and fastball!

    1. If he’s going to be a successful starter, he’ll need a third pitch. The front office should be happy with Ferguson as an asset. He’ll either become a good to very good starter or a major part of the bullpen. Win-win.

  3. I have always liked Ryu, and i would especially like to see him have a full year of good health because I think this guy could legitimately be a Cy Young candidate.

  4. Ryu has always been a favorite of mine and after watching him adapt to lost velocity by moving his pitches around and utilizing that devastating changeup he has convinced me he will be good for many more years. I hope we give him another contract this year. I’d go ahead and take the risk by offering him something like 3 years $30-40 million versus him having an all star year and getting 4 years $75 million on the open market.

  5. Meanwhile Puig really showed his true colors today saying he didn’t work hard for the Dodgers because he knew he was under contract and was going to get paid regardless. Now he says he will actually work hard so he can cash in for a big pay day. I don’t think he will ever really grow up and mature to be a real adult. He will always need a babysitter to keep him out of trouble.

  6. First, Puig is a Reds problem now. So I would not worry what he says or does. They did what they had wanted to do for a while. Just too bad Kemp had to be part of that. He would be a great piece of the puzzle. I think he is going to really light it up in Cincy. Disagree all you like, not my problem. Harrison signs with the Tigers. Still no Harper news, so what else is new.

  7. I always tried to give Puig the benefit of the doubt,but it looks like trading him was more than a money dump. Andrew got rid of a potential cancer. If Puig doesn’t want to give 100%, good riddance.
    With a stupid comment like this, I’ll bet he doesn’t have many teams lining up to give him a big multi year contract next year. Open mouth, insert foot.

    1. Maybe not. But you can bet someone will take a flyer on the guy, possible even the Reds if he has the kind of year I believe he will in that bandbox. They signed another outfielder today the Reds did, Deitrich signed a minor league deal with them. They have some pretty good bats out there now. I doubt he gets anywhere near what the top guys get, but remember, Puig is only 28, and will be 29 next year. So his chances of a 4 year deal are pretty good. More than that, I do not think so. Dodgers have had 18 ROY’s since the award started. Nearest team to them is the Yankees with 9. Who do you think will be the next Dodger to snag the award. ?????

      1. A few years ago I watched Puig on the backup field. There wasn’t a crowd there, maybe 15 people sitting and chatting. I was with a buddy and he turned to me and says “he sure makes hitting the ball over the fence look easy”. The way he said it made me laugh but it also made me take a closer look. Puig is huge. He’s built like an NFL linebacker and he moves like a running back. He’s very fast when he wants to be (home to third in 11.02) He’s 240 pounds of fast twitch fiber, but I also think it’s likely it all comes so easy to him he may feel like he doesn’t have to work at it. I believe he just admitted that. I’m guessing it was a lack of work ethic that caused Friedman to give up on him. And that trade was just that. Friedman gave him away. And it’s my belief Cincinnati will benefit. I think he will hit 30 home runs and OPS .850 for that team. He will score over 80 runs, knock in over 80 and might even start stealing bases. It’s a shame the Dodgers coaching staff couldn’t get through to him. But, he’s gone, with only 2 of his 6 years here fully realized. What a waste of talent. I hope he wakes up in the Midwest. Reds fans will be very happy if he does.

      2. It was disappointing to read that. But it really reminded me of when Gary Sheffield left the Dodgers. His statement was that he did not play hard every day. That at the time really pissed me off. Mainly because I cannot understand that lack of commitment when you are making the kind of money these guys make. And because guys like that are so blessed with that kind of ability. I would have killed to be that good.

    1. He does fall under the blanket. Less than 130 at bats. I am not sure if he falls under the 45 days on the active roster though.

    2. Okay, I checked the records. He is over the 45 days on the roster. He is at 78. By that measure he is not considered a rookie. Sorry to burst that bubble. Rookies on the roster would be Santana, Alvarez, Sborz, Ruiz, Beaty, Rios, and that’s it.

  8. If Puig actually put in the effort with his talent he could land himself a $150 million contract in his sleep but I believe even if he does have a great season this year for the Reds teams will still be scared of paying him big money. My guess is he had to settle for 4 years $60 million from someone.

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