The Los Angeles Dodgers wrapped up the month of June with the best record in baseball at 57-29. Los Angeles is a favorite to win the World Series in large part due to the contributions of the four players the team had named to the 2019 All-Star Game: slugger Cody Bellinger and starting pitchers Hyun-jin Ryu, Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw.
Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts will manage the National League All-Stars and will have his team’s top three starters available to him during the MLB All-Star Game. Do all three of these pitchers deserve their spot in this weekend’s festivities?
Hyun-jin Ryu, an obvious choice
The only question about Hyun-jin Ryu’s position on the all-star team is whether or not he should be the starting pitcher for the National League. He was about as clear-cut of a choice as it gets.
Ryu had his first terrible outing of the season in his last trip to the mound on the road against the Colorado Rockies, allowing nine hits and seven earned runs in four innings of work. But even after that slip-up, Ryu still owns the best ERA in the majors at 1.83 and a microscopic WHIP of 0.90. The loss was just Ryu’s second recorded loss of the season, and it marked the first time in 16 starts that the 32-year-old has surrendered more than two earned runs.
Hyun-jin Ryu doesn’t possess lights-out stuff as he throws his fastball in the low 90 MPH range and has only 94 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched. What he does have is sensational control, as is illustrated by the fact that he has walked only seven batters in 2019.
Ryu has always had the potential to be an elite pitcher, but injuries have hampered him throughout his career. It is great to see the lefty finally staying on the mound and showing the world what he is capable of.
Walker Buehler, the ace of the present and future
Walker Buehler surged onto the scene last season as a 23-year-old with a fastball in the high 90’s and a 2.62 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP in 137.1 innings of work. He has carried that momentum into another strong campaign in 2019, boasting an 8-1 record, a 3.43 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP with 104 strikeouts through 97 innings. The right-hander’s WHIP is the fourth lowest among qualified pitchers this season behind only Justin Verlander, Ryu, and Zack Greinke.
Like his teammate Ryu, Buehler saw his ERA take a hit when the Dodgers visited Colorado, allowing 13 hits and seven earned runs in 5.2 innings to jump from 2.96 to 3.43 in one game. The temporary spike in ERA doesn’t take away from the fact that Buehler is one of the most exciting young pitchers in the game today.
Clayton Kershaw, proving the doubters wrong
After missing the All-Star Game for the first time since 2010 last season, Kershaw will make his eighth appearance in the game here in 2019. Despite a decrease in velocity and other concerns coming into this season, Kershaw has shown that he can still be an effective starter on a championship caliber team.
Kershaw’s ERA of 3.23 ranks 15th best in the major leagues and sixth best in the National League, and his WHIP of 1.07 ranks 12th best in the majors and fifth best in the National League. With his fastball speed steadily dipping over the last five years, the veteran lefty has reinvented himself as a control pitcher and relied more heavily on his slider.
The transformation has worked. Like Ryu, Kershaw won’t blow anyone away with power pitches anymore, but he doesn’t have to; he’s still one of the best in the NL.
A worthy trio of all-stars
Before the stats got jumbled by the thin Colorado air and hard-hitting bats of the Colorado Rockies, this answer may have been even more obvious. But make no mistake about it; all three of these guys are worthy all-stars. They become just the fifth trio of starters from the same team to make the All-Star Game in the last 20 years.
This starting rotation is the best in the National League and is the main reason the Dodgers are such a legitimate threat to finally end their World Series slump in 2019.