Dodgers left-hander Hyun-jin Ryu will be out until after the All-Star break with a groin tear, as manager Dave Roberts told reporters including The Athletic’s Pedro Moura on Thursday. He suffered the injury in the second inning of Wednesday night’s start against the Diamondbacks. Ryu has a Grade 2 tear and won’t need surgery, so it’s not an absolute worst-case scenario, but it’s certainly not an ideal development for a Dodgers team that has already been ravaged by major injuries this year.
The 31-year-old Korean starter has now been on the disabled list eight times through his six-year major-league career. He missed all of the 2015 season following shoulder surgery and made just one start in 2016 after he suffered an elbow injury immediately following his recovery from the shoulder ailment, so the Dodgers can at least take solace in the fact that he didn’t suffer another arm injury. Ryu had been very good over the early part of the 2018 season, posting a 2.12 ERA while holding hitters to a .154 average, walking 10, and striking out 36 over 29.2 innings.
Ryu’s injury does even more to expose Los Angeles’ lack of reliable pitching depth — an oddity considering that the Dodgers have often possessed as many as 10 legitimate big-league starters at a time since their current run of regular-season dominance began in 2013. Walker Buehler, who has looked very good over his first two major-league starts, will replace Ryu in the rotation, but that’s certainly not an ideal situation for the Dodgers considering that they were looking to limit the 23-year-old’s innings this season. Ross Stripling, who has primarily worked as a long reliever at the major-league level, will also remain in the rotation for the time being. Brock Stewart, Henry Owens, and Dennis Santana — who is the organization’s No. 10 prospect according to MLB Pipeline but is still in Double-A — are the only other starters on the 40-man roster. With that being said, it seems quite clear that Los Angeles won’t be in position to take advantage of minor-league options and the disabled list to keep their starters fresh like they did last year.
Rich Hill — who is currently on the DL with a finger infection — is expected to be back sooner than later, but he’s been on the disabled list six times since the beginning of the 2016 season and can’t be counted on to deliver extended innings. 21-year-old Julio Urias, who is recovering from shoulder surgery and hasn’t pitched since June 10 of last year, is expected to return at mid-season, but the Dodgers won’t want to push him too hard since he’s coming off an injury and is so young. Though the Dodgers signed Tom Koehler — who has been on the DL with a shoulder strain since spring training — to serve as a reliever, it’s theoretically possible that he could contribute to the rotation later on this season if he ultimately makes it back from the injury.
Ryu joins Hill, Urias, Koehler, Logan Forsythe, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Yasiel Puig on the Dodgers’ disabled list. That’s two-fifths of their Opening Day rotation and exactly half of their projected everyday lineup.