As we all know, the LA Angels are going to be heavily involved in what has turned out to be a great group of free agent starting pitchers.
And while everyone in baseball is linking the LA Angels to Gerrit Cole and vice versa, let us not forget about Hyun-Jim Ryu, who could be in a perfect position if he were to find himself pitching in Anaheim come 2020.
No, this isn’t an article about how Shohei Ohtani and Ryu would be best friends and create a better environment for Ohtani. That’s moreso a tired angle, and Ohtani has had no problem bonding with his teammates since his arrival nearly two years ago.
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This is purely about the on-field aspect of the signing. Obviously Ryu is going to be one of the highest paid starters this winter. And while he’ll remain effective, the Angels may have a better case to sign him than anyone.
Ryu’s main worries are his age (he’ll turn 33 in March) and the way he fatigues towards the end of seasons (he posted a 7.48 ERA in September). For Ryu, these both could be issues that drive down his price in free agency. In addition, they could be less impactful if he were to join Ohtani in the Angels’ rotation.
While I said this wasn’t about Ohtani and Ryu off the field, the on-field portion of it remains vital. With Ohtani back on the mound, the six-man rotation will once again be in full swing in Anaheim next season. That creates less stress on each pitcher throughout the season while also giving them an extra day (or two) of prep between starts.
This, in theory, should help minimize the negative parts of Hyun-Jin Ryu. In a traditional five-man rotation, a fully healthy season would mean 33 starts for the upper-half of the rotation. In a six-man rotation, that would mean 27 cycles through a rotation.
In 2019, Ryu made 29 starts. If he were to be scheduled for two less than that, at most, it could help him remain effective throughout an entire season in Anaheim. It would also mean that Ryu would be better rested for any potential playoff run the Angels may make during his time in Anaheim.
It goes without saying that as Ryu’s age increases, these worries will only be more and more magnified. If he spends the next 3-4 years pitching in a six-man rotation, his career could very well be elongated.
While he may not be the LA Angels top target, the NL ERA king would be a perfect fit for the Halos in 2019 and beyond. And hey, he wouldn’t even have to move houses.