Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched himself to a season worthy of being one of the top NL Rookie of the Year candidates in 2013. In his rookie season, the Korean stud finished the year with a 3.00 ERA in 30 starts. His 14-8 win-loss record, 1.203 WHIP, 7.2 strikeouts per nine innings, and 3.14 strikeout to walk ratio are beyond impressive for a 26-year-old, untested and unproven kid from the Korean league.
But those stats are not enough for Ryu, according to DodgersNation.com. The blog reported this weekend that Ryu told GlobalPost.com in an interview he wants to pitch even more efficiently in 2014: “I will be entering my ninth year as a pro, and I don’t really have new goals for next year, Ryu said. First and foremost, I would like to win at least 10 games and post an ERA in the 2.00 range.”
It brings great happiness to me to hear that Ryu’s focus is not on wins, as 10 wins in 2014 would be worse than his 2013 performance, but he is concentrating on lowering his ERA. All too often, foolish people look at the win-loss record as an important determining factor for a pitcher’s talent. Clearly, a terrible win-loss record could tell you something, in general, but it can be all too misleading. Fellow Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, is a perfect example of this principle. Kershaw finished the 2013 season with a 16-9 recond, which seems decent, but hides the fact that he was the best pitcher in the National League and he will almost undoubtedly be the winner of the 2013 NL Cy Young Award.
With Ryu’s sights set on an even better showing next season, the Dodgers would be sitting in the driver’s seat with three aces in Ryu, Kershaw and Zack Greinke. All of this is not even taking account for the possibilities of David Price and Japanese-star Masahiro Tanaka possibly signing with the Dodgers.
Although 10 wins and a 2.00 ERA will not be easy by any stretch of the imagination, I believe it is possible for Ryu to get it done next season. He finished in the top 15 among all MLB pitchers in ERA and has shown the ability to shut down opponents in any given outing. Ryu still has plenty of work to do in order to be on the same level as Kershaw or even Greinke, but his lofty goals are certainly not unattainable.