Dodgers 2014 profile: Hyun-jin Ryu, ready for an encore

Harry How

Ryu went straight from FanFest on Saturday to Arizona, a week before Dodgers pitchers and catchers are required to report to Camelback Ranch.

Hyun-jin Ryu seemed to enjoy his offseason after a successful first year in MLB. But after filming several commercials and even a pop music song back home in South Korea, the left-hander showed up to the U.S. early in 2014, looking lighter than he did to start 2013.

Of his offseason activities, especially the music video, Ryu said he had a good time.

"It seemed comical, but I was asked to do it and it was for a good cause," he said. "I was just having some fun. It's the first time I ever did anything like that."

Whatever he did during the offseason, Ryu was still able to keep in shape, something he vowed to do after coming to camp at 255 pounds in 2013.

"I felt last year in spring training I needed more time," Ryu said Saturday at FanFest at Dodger Stadium, through translator Martin Kim. "I'm definitely lighter this year, more fit."

When asked of his diet, Ryu wouldn't say how much weight he has lost, be he did reveal that he has never tried a Dodger Dog.

But on the field, Ryu said one thing he would like to improve upon in 2014 is to work more on his offspeed pitches early to get a better feel for all his repertoire, earlier than in 2013. This seems more important for a pitcher like Ryu, who per PITCHf/x threw his fastball just 31.3% of the time.

The improved command for Ryu manifested itself in the default second half in 2013, when he improved after the All-Star break to striking out 20.3% of batters faced and walking only 3.3%, compared to 19.3% and 8.1%, respectively, beforehand.

If Ryu can continue his improvement, perhaps he can reach his goal. The southpaw is signed through 2018, but is already thinking bigger things, thanks to contracts signed this winter by his countryman Shin-Soo Choo (seven years, $130 million with Texas) and teammate Clayton Kershaw (seven years, $215 million).

"Those deals inspire me to pitch the way I know I can," Ryu said. "Hopefully one day that opportunity will come to me."

Trivia

Ryu's 192 innings were the sixth most by an L.A. Dodger rookie, and the most since Ismael Valdes threw 197⅔ innings in 1995.

Contract status

Ryu is in the second season of a six-year, $36 million contract. He receives $6 million in 2014, including $3.5 million in base salary and the last $2.5 million of his signing bonus on April 1. Ryu can opt out of the deal after the 2017 season if he totals 750 innings between 2013-2017.

Previous profiles

2013: The start of something

Stats

Year Age IP BB% K% ERA FIP
2013 26 192 6.3% 19.7% 3.00 3.24
2014 projections - Age 27 season
Source IP BB% K% ERA FIP
Bill James 190 6.0% 19.0% 3.32 3.40
Oliver 188 6.5% 19.4% 3.12 3.42
Steamer 189 7.3% 20.3% 3.44 3.41
ZiPS 182⅓ 6.6% 20.5% 3.65 3.73

2014 outlook

I'll guess a 3.43 ERA for Ryu, with 160 strikeouts in 194 innings. What's your guess?

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