Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Ryu Hyun-Jin, trying to become only the second South Korean player on a Major League Baseball champion team, will start Wednesday’s second game of the World Series.
The 31-year-old from Incheon was named Monday by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to start against Boston left-hander David Price at Fenway Park before the scene shifts in the best-of-seven final to Los Angeles for game three on Friday.
“With Hyun-Jin he’s been very good at Dodger Stadium, but if he’s executing pitches and being on the road, we’re not concerned,” Roberts said.
“He has had a tremendous year. And pitching in big games, whether it be at home or on the road, his pulse, as we’ve talked about with a lot of our players, isn’t a concern of ours.”
Ryu went 7-3 with 85 strikeouts, 15 walks and a 1.97 earned-run average in the regular season. He threw seven scoreless innings in the National League division series and split two starts against Milwaukee in the NL Championship Series, dropping game six before the Dodgers advanced in seven.
Roberts selected right-handed rookie Walter Buehler to take the mound in game three against a Red Sox pitcher to be determined.
Keeping Ryu on regular rest was a factor in the decision, Roberts said.
“We feel that for him to be able to pitch two games in the series, he’s on turn,” Roberts said. “And we like Walker behind him. And we like Walker pitching at home. So we just feel comfortable with that, the way we line things up.”
In 2013, Ryu became the first South Korean starting pitcher in a Major League Baseball playoff game for the Dodgers, but he struggled with injuries since then, missing the 2015 season with a left shoulder injury and undergoing left elbow surgery in 2016.
“I never doubted myself, whether I could come back the same way that I pitched from the past to now after the surgery,” Ryu said of his recoveries.
“Throughout the rehab process, it was pretty much the same. I had no doubt in my mind that I could come back and pitch as well as I had in the past. I feel like I pitch the same way as I did prior to the injury.”
Only one South Korean player has ever won the World Series, Kim Byung-hyun with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
Ryu will face an intense atmosphere in Fenway Park, the oldest major league ballpark dating to 1912 with fans hopeful the Red Sox will capture their fourth title in 15 seasons.
It’s going to be rocking. This place is going to be obviously going crazy,” game one starting pitcher Chris Sale said. “We have very passionate fans. We’ve all been waiting for this. And our fans, too. I think they’re just as excited as we are. I don’t doubt this place is not going to be getting up and going.”
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said his club, which won a team-record 108 games this season, has created an excitement beyond their baseball-mad city.
“You had a feeling that the city was going to fall in love with them,” Cora said. “They fight all the way to the end. I’m very proud of them. And I’m glad that people are recognizing them, not only here in Boston but all over