If starting pitchers had their way, they would only start at home. And this is for two big reasons: 1) They know the nooks and crannies of their home ballpark, and know where to pitch certain hitters, and 2) They have their home fans behind them, and positive reinforcement is instrumental in success.
In 2014, starting pitchers have a 3.69 ERA at home, opposed to a 3.96 ERA on the road; in general, hurlers have the most success in the friendly confines of their home stadium. But, as with everything, there are always pitchers who go against the grain, and Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Los Angeles Dodgers is the biggest outlier in Major League Baseball this season.
For the season, Ryu is boasting a 3.08 ERA (2.73 FIP) in 11 starts. He’s striking out more, walking less and has dropped the number of home runs he’s allowed from a year ago, his first in the Majors. The former South Korean star is putting together an All-Star caliber campaign, highlighted by his performance against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 11, when he pitched seven innings of two-hit scoreless ball while punching out nine. That outing, by the way, came on the road, just as almost every one of his impressive outings have come.
Take a gander at his home/road splits.
Ryu has been crazy good when he isn’t pitching at Dodger stadium. He has the lowest ERA among qualified starters on the road (Astros’ Collin McHugh has the second-best road ERA at 1.33), and has the 139th worst home ERA of starters who have pitched at least 20 innings at home. We might as well call him the road warrior.
For all intents and purposes, there’s no way Ryu can keep this up. Last season he posted a 3.69 ERA on the road and a 2.32 ERA at home, so history tells us his splits will even themselves out eventually. His 2014 road FIP, which does a wonderful job of predicting a pitcher’s future performance, is 2.68, or 1.73 higher than his road ERA. Additionally, his home FIP is 2.81. Regression will come for the southpaw on the road, while his home starts should improve.
Ryu will try to continue his road dominance when he makes his next start on June 11 against the Reds in Cincinnati.