Haven’t seen an answer that wasn’t Clayton Kershaw to that question in a long time have you? Well it has happened, since last year over a span of 225 innings Ryu has kept an ERA under 2 and a whip under 1. That is pretty good for a guy who strikes out around 7.5 guys per 9 innings right? So how do you ask does he do this when his average fastball velocity is only 90 mph? Well the guy just flat knows how to attack hitters, can throw multiple pitches for strikes, and can locate 5+ pitches at any time in any count. Let’s take a closer look.
Between 2017 and 2019 Ryu has expanded his pitching repertoire to include a sinker and a “slow curve”, the sinker has become a pitch he uses regularly (about 15% of the time) while the slow curve he rarely uses but nonetheless the pitch is there and is something the hitter needs to prepare for. What I found most impressive about Ryu is that he throws his Fastball and Changeup most regularly (more than 50% of the time) and that his fastball tops out at 90mph. How are players not able to hit that on a more frequent basis? Is it a deceptive delivery? I think its two parts, the first being his off-speed pitches more specifically his changeup tops out at 80, so when you see 80 followed by 90 that 90 looks more like 95. Second his delivery is both deceptive and repeatable so his fastball looks the same coming out of his hands as his cutter and as a hitter you have no idea where the ball is going to enter the zone and it’s impossible to sit fastball. As proof of that his Barrel % is 4.1, 4.1! That is outrageous. In other words out of 411 Barrels only 17 have been hit square. Factor in an 85.9 exit velocity and even when you barrel a pitch it’s not being hit with force and more times than not will be hit into the defense. I think the moral of the story as with other pitchers you have found success recently he is pitching backwards and by that I mean he is setting up his fastball with his off-speed pitches so his lack of mph’s is irrelevant. When you have as many quality pitches as Ryu, that can be throw at any time, as a hitter you are constantly off balance. Does this all equate to a Cy Young award for the Dodger ace? If health cooperates it just might.