Hyun-Jin Ryu's scoreless streak is nearing historic territory

Yahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports

Another day, another scoreless outing for Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander fired seven scoreless innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, extending his career-best streak to 31 innings.

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During the flawless stretch, Ryu has lowered his ERA from 3.18 to 1.52, which now leads the majors. But perhaps more importantly, Ryu is moving into historic company, as his streak is tied for the 10th-longest in franchise history.

The Dodgers have been spoiled by dominant pitching lately with three different streaks of at least 37 straight scoreless innings in the last six seasons. Clayton Kershaw did it twice in 2014 and ‘15, while Zack Greinke owns baseball’s sixth-longest scoreless streak at 45 2/3 innings in 2015.

In fact, before Greinke, the last scoreless streak longer than 45 innings was fellow Dodger Orel Hershiser’s major-league record 59 inning streak in 1988.

Ryu will have a chance to crack the Dodgers’ top-5 longest streaks next start, which will likely come Saturday at the Pittsburgh Pirates. He could then have a chance to join baseball’s top-10 longest streaks on Thursday, May 30 at home against the New York Mets.

Here is the full list of baseball’s longest scoreless inning streaks, via MLB.com and the Elias Sports Bureau:

1. Orel Hershiser, Dodgers, 59 IP, Aug. 30-Sept. 28, 1988

2. Don Drysdale, Dodgers, 58 IP, May 14-June 8, 1968

3. Walter Johnson, Senators, 55 2/3 IP, April 10-May 14, 1913

4. Jack Coombs, Athletics, 53 IP, Sept. 5-Sept. 25, 1910

5. Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 47 IP, June 2-26, 1968

6. Zack Greinke, Dodgers, 45 2/3 IP, June 18-July 26, 2015

7. Carl Hubbell, Giants, 45 1/3 IP, July 13-Aug. 1, 1933

8 (tie). Cy Young, Red Sox, 45 IP, April 25-May 17, 1904

8 (tie). Doc White, White Sox, 45 IP, Sept. 12-30,1904

8 (tie). Sal Maglie, Giants, 45 IP, Aug. 16-Sept. 4, 1950

Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is reaching historic company with his 31-inning scoreless streak. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu is reaching historic company with his 31-inning scoreless streak. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

How is Hyun-Jin Ryu getting it done?

If you were to guess at the start of the year which Dodgers pitcher would have an extended scoreless inning streak, Ryu would be far from the first pick. Kershaw would have been an easy guess, while sophomore Walker Buehler was a popular Cy Young Award sleeper pick.

Ryu, meanwhile, was never a lock to hold down a rotation spot all season.

Still, he’s become one of the game’s most dominant pitchers so far in 2019. Although he doesn’t have much in the way of velocity — his 90.4 mph average fastball velocity ranks 53rd among 62 pitchers with at least 50 innings — Ryu has displayed above-average command of five different pitches.

Ryu entered Sunday with a career-high 63 percent first pitch strike rate, which has helped him achieve outstanding ratios. He has 59 strikeouts to just four walks in 59 1/3 innings with just two walks in his last five starts.

“He’s just locked in right now with everything – his entire pitch mix, the secondaries, fastball to all quadrants,” Dodgers manager David Roberts said after Sunday’s game, via the Orange County Register. “It’s fun to watch a player like that in a zone.”

Ryu took a no-hitter into the eighth inning in the start before Sunday — with some help from Cody Bellinger — and yet somehow the best may be yet to come. He shouldn’t be expected to keep this up all season, but Ryu is looking like a bargain at $17.9 million. With one win valued at about $10 million and 1.8 WAR already, Ryu has already paid for himself with more than four months to go.

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