For the first time since 2009, someone not named Clayton Kershaw will get the first start of the Dodgers’ playoffs. It was announced on Tuesday afternoon that the Dodgers would be going with Hyu-jin Ryu at home in game one on Thursday.
#Dodgers just announced Hyun-Jin Ryu will start Game 1 vs Braves Thursday with Clayton Kershaw in Game 2. Keeps them in order from last weekend SF. Both will be pitching on 5 days rest
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) October 3, 2018
There are a few reasons that Dave Roberts opted to go with Ryu over Kershaw, and none of them are reasons fans would like to hear. Let’s go through them.
Riding the Hot Hand
First and foremost, Ryu has simply been on fire since his return from the disabled list. Since August 15th, Ryu has appeared in nine games. In that time he has allowed just 11 earned runs across 55.2 innings of work. That puts his ERA in that period at a ridiculous 1.88, which is pretty close to his season ERA. Ryu has also been going pretty deep into games. He has averaged around five innings of work since his return and struck out close to nine batters per nine innings. He has also allowed just five walks since August.
Looking at his last three starts alone, you would have to out Ryu at the top of your rotation expectations. He has thrown 19 innings and allowed just one run (0.47 ERA) facing off against the Giants, Padres, and Rockies. Ryu is definitely the hot-hand in the rotation.
Clayton Kershaw Just Had His Worst Month
Clayton Kershaw’s last month of work has been pretty tough to watch. In his six September starts, he gave up 16 earned runs in 37 innings for a 3.89 era. That mark was the single worst month of the year for him. He also walked nine batters and threw 541 pitches, both season highs. While he does have the advantage of having faced the Braves this year, this is still the right call.
Game Two and Three Will Be Huge
Let’s say for a minute that Ryu does lead the Dodgers to victory in game one. That would mean that Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler would be lined up to pitch games two and three. That’s a scary thought for the Braves. Collectively, these three guys combined for 106 innings between September 1st and now. They allowed 28 earned runs(2.38 ERA) and struck out 106 batters.
If I’m Dave Roberts, I would feel pretty confident knowing the uphill climb the Braves face. Ryu, Kershaw, and Buehler all on six days of rest. They should be shaking in their cleats.
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