The Dodgers bid $25.7 million for Ryu’s rights last month after he was posted by his team in Korea. He went 9-9 with a 2.66 ERA and 210 strikeouts in 182 2/3 innings for Hanwha last season.
The 25-year-old Ryu can’t necessarily be penciled into a rotation that’s set to include Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett, with Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly coming back from injuries. The team also has Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang available as starters, but with a payroll set to come in around $250 million, those guys are expendable.
Ryu could open the year in the pen and then move into the rotation later, or it’s possible he’ll be needed right away if either Billingsley or Lilly requires additional rehab time. Given that Ryu hasn’t thrown 200 innings in a season since 2007, it might be for the best if he spends the first month or so working in relief.
Here’s some Korean footage of Ryu striking out 13 batters in a game:
Hunter Pence was thought to be on his way to retirement after a lackluster 2018 season with the Giants. As he entered his mid-30’s, Pence spent a considerable amount of time on the injured list, playing in 389 out of 648 possible regular season games with the Giants from 2015-18.
Pence, however, kept his career going, inking a minor league deal with the Rangers in February. He performed very well in spring training, earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. Pence hasn’t stopped hitting.
Entering Monday night’s game against the Mariners, Pence was batting .299/.358/.619 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 109 plate appearances, mostly as a DH. Statcast agrees that Pence has been mashing the ball. He has an average exit velocity of 93.3 MPH this season, which would obliterate his marks in each of the previous four seasons since Statcast became a thing. His career average exit velocity is 89.8 MPH. He has “barreled” the ball 10.4 percent of the time, well above his 6.2 percent average.
What Pence did to a baseball in the seventh inning of Monday’s game, then, shouldn’t come as a surprise.
That’s No. 9 on the year for Pence. Statcast measured it at 449 feet and 108.3 MPH off the bat. Not only is Pence not retired, he may be a lucrative trade chip for the Rangers leading up to the trade deadline at the end of July.