Hyun Jin Ryu has been consistently solid all year long for the Dodgers, and there been little reason to doubt him. After a bit of a lull in the middle of the season, he bounced back to finish strong and alleviated any worries of a tiring arm or any other issues. As such, I felt confident going into Game 3 of the 2013 NLDS despite his matchup against arguably the Braves‘ best pitcher in Julio Teheran.
Unfortunately, that confidence is starting to wane a bit, and it has nothing to do with his skill level. Rather, I’m worried about his arm health.
For example, Ryu worked out this week with a compression sleeve on his left elbow. He also threw a bullpen session Friday with team surgeon Neal ElAttrache, medical director Stan Conte and manager Don Mattingly watching.
Ryu generally does not throw bullpen sessions between starts, and especially not two days before a start. He appeared to throw without discomfort.
Asked about his arm after Game 1, Ryu said he was “fine” and that he was wearing the sleeve to “keep my arm loose.”
The inclusion of Chris Capuano on the postseason roster is a sign that the Dodgers wanted insurance if a starter exits a game early and they need a long reliever, which they essentially went without for the entire season.
Paranoid coming off a loss and going into cynical mode? Perhaps, but with the way injury reports have shaken out all year, does the staff really deserve the benefit of the doubt as far as injuries are concerned?
Ryu not throwing bullpens was covered as weird at the start of the year, but as his results came in, nobody questioned it. But now, before the biggest start of his MLB career, he just decides to throw a bullpen session with the medical personnel and manager monitoring him? Furthermore, multiple people have informed me that Ryu has been icing his arm more than normal in the past week or so. All of that sounds to me like he threw the pen just to be able to confirm he could indeed make Sunday’s start.
In light of that news, I can’t help being worried about whether or not he’s actually 100%, regardless of what he or anybody else on the staff says. Or even worse, it forces us to consider the possibility that he’s scratched early or gets injured during the start, which puts Chris Capuano in Game 3. Horrifying.
I would love to be wrong, but the fan/blogger skepticism has been well-earned this year by the team, and at the very least it’s hard to see a break in routine for the first time all year as a positive turn of events.
Hope for the best with Ryu, because the alternative is ugly.