Dodgers Rotation Update: How Ryu Hyun-jin Solidifies 2013 Pitching Staff

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Dodgers Rotation Update: How Ryu Hyun-jin Solidifies 2013 Pitching Staff
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Dodgers have a history of success with Asian pitchers that any franchise would envy.

Chan Ho Park and Hideo Nomo both made All-Star teams in the mid-to-late '90s with the Dodgers, thrilling baseball fans in Southern California as well as their respective homelands.

After a several-year lull in international signings, primarily brought about by budget constraints, the now-flush-with-cash Dodgers dove back into the Far East talent pool to win the negotiating rights to 25-year-old South Korean All-Star Ryu Hyun-jin.

If the Dodgers do successfully sign Ryu, they will add sorely-needed youth to a rotation that has aged quite suddenly beyond Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw.

Even if L.A. adds a free-agent hurler like Kyle Lohse, it will still be leaning heavily on pitchers on the wrong side of 30.

But Ryu would give the Dodgers a solid top three along with Kershaw and Josh Beckett and, more importantly, allow the team to pick the final two pitchers from a pool of four with the most question marks—Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly.

CBSSports.com reports that some have compared the stocky lefty to David Wells, and video available online seems to support that. Ryu not only has a plus fastball, but he has a quality curve and even the same arm slot and deceptive motion that Wells employed.

If the Dodgers do sign a veteran hurler such as Lohse, this could be their 2013 rotation (best stats of past two years used):

Name Year ERA W L IP K
Kershaw 2011 2.28 21 5 233.1 174
Beckett 2011 2.89 13 7 193.0 175
Ryu 2012 2.66 9 9 182.2 210
Lohse 2012 2.86 16 3 211.0 143
Billingsley 2012 3.55 10 9 149.2 128

And even if the Dodgers don't get Lohse, simply adding Ryu greatly reduces their exposure in the rotation to age and injury.

Capuano and Harang may become trade bait, and the club still has Lilly and Billingsley to work into the fifth spot in the rotation.

If anything, though, Josh Beckett is still the key to this rotation as the bridge between Kershaw and everyone else. Still only 32, Beckett should thrive back in the NL in a pitcher-friendly division.

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