The Duel

Hyun-Jin Ryu Looks Like Biggest Steal of 2019 Fantasy Baseball Season

Dan Israeli
New York Mets v Los Angeles Dodgers
New York Mets v Los Angeles Dodgers / John McCoy

Cover Photo: Getty Images

In fantasy baseball, there are few greater feelings than grabbing an elite producer late in drafts. So far this season, Josh Bell of the Pittsburg Pirates is easily the fantasy MVP among hitters, while Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers has staked his early claim as fantasy's Cy Young.

Ryu, who came into the season with a Yahoo draft ranking of 165, is currently the No. 1 pitcher in fantasy baseball and the No. 4 player overall, behind only Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich, and the aforementioned Bell. While people were grabbing Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill before him this draft season, it is Ryu who has emerged as the Dodgers' ace through two months of play and looks like he could make his first MLB All-Star Game.

Ryu's fantasy numbers dazzle across the board –he owns an 8-1 record, 1.48 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and 69 strikeouts in 73 innings. While the K-rate is not elite, his high inning total still puts him on pace for over 200 strikeouts on the season.

Ryu has always shown ace potential, but has struggled to stay healthy. He has only managed 30 starts once in his career, during his 2013 rookie season, and is coming off an injury-plagued 2018 in which he started 15 games and totaled 82.1 innings. Ryu has yet to eclipse 200 innings in a single season.

Given his history, and the fact that he is clearly pitching over his head (career 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP), is Ryu a sell-high candidate?

The truth is, it's hard to say. Ryu may regress, but by how much? He finished last season with a 1.97 ERA and 1.01 WHIP, so his current ratios are not unheard of. For those who got lucky with Ryu, it may be wise to ride the wave with a pitcher playing on a great team and in a friendly park. For those worried about his injury history, it may be worth flipping him for a struggling, yet more durable starter like Aaron Nola or Carlos Carrasco.

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