Ryu's return to rotation 'very encouraging'

Dodgers lefty holds Cards to 1 run over 6 sharp innings

Ryu's return to rotation 'very encouraging'

ST. LOUIS -- Hyun-Jin Ryu had the chance to make his case for a spot in a crowded and talented Dodgers starting rotation on Wednesday night. He made the most of it.

Starting in place of the injured Alex Wood (SC joint inflammation), Ryu needed just 77 pitches to cruise through six innings in the Dodgers' 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He gave up three hits and the only walk he allowed was intentional.

"During the warmup, when I was doing long tosses in the bullpen, I found out that all my four pitches were working to a pretty good level, so I knew I was going to have a pretty good outing," Ryu said through an interpreter. "I just wanted to make sure that I mixed them up."

Ryu retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced.

"He did have a really good look in his eye," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "The change was really good. He was throwing a little cutter in on right-handers and the fastball played up and it was as much velocity as we've seen this year from Hyun-Jin."

Ryu's career stat line against the Cardinals of 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA didn't change, namely because of the dominance of his counterpart, Cardinals ace Carlos Martinez, who struck out nine over eight innings.

The lone run against Ryu came off the bat of Cardinals rookie Paul DeJong, whose two-out RBI double went over Chris Taylor's head to dead center field. Ryu may not have had the best of luck on that, as Taylor appeared to get a late jump on the ball in the sun.

"It was a good pitch," Roberts said. "It was a changeup, two outs, ball down in the strike zone and DeJong put a good swing on it really. Chris might not have gotten the best jump, because it was a good pitch actually, but C.T., he's been really playing great for us out there."

Ryu (2-5) lowered his ERA from 4.28 to 3.91.

Even with the performance, Ryu's immediate future could be in the bullpen, depending on Wood's health.

"His outing tonight was very encouraging and we've always considered him a starter, and we'd like to continue to give him opportunities, but I think right now it is still contingent on Alex, his health," Roberts said. "We're hopeful that Alex can make his start, but … right now he's not 100 percent. So days leading up to that start, it's still nice to have Hyun-Jin."

Woods' status should become clear in a couple of days, Roberts said.

Ryu will be ready.

"Tomorrow, unless they tell me otherwise, I'll prepare as if I'm starting in the next five days," Ryu said.

Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis. He covered the Dodgers on Wednesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.