Hyun-Jin Ryu not only has a tough act to follow in current Los Angeles Dodgers history, but from the past as well.
The South Korean left-hander makes his much-anticipated major league debut Tuesday night when the Dodgers continue a three-game home set with the San Francisco Giants.
Ryu will become the first player to go directly from the Korean league to the major leagues as he gets the start after 2011 NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw's four-hitter paved the way in a 4-0 victory in Monday's season opener.
Not only will Ryu have to pitch after one of the top left-handers in baseball in Kershaw, he's following in the footsteps of the Korean pitcher he idolized back home - former Dodgers right-hander Chan Ho Park.
"I was only in grade school when Chan Ho was pitching, but I do remember waking up in the early mornings just to catch some of the games," Ryu said through a translator. "He is definitely a role model for me and a lot of my peers in baseball who are a similar age. All of us started playing baseball because we were inspired by Chan Ho Park back in the day."
Ryu agreed to a $36 million, six-year contract with the Dodgers after they bid $25.7 million to win exclusive rights to negotiate with him. The 25-year-old went 2-2 with a 3.29 ERA in six starts and one relief outing in the spring.
"He's kind of been as advertised to this point," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's been pretty good and he's had a really nice spring. He pitches quick and does everything you want him to do. So as we keep moving forward, I think everybody's pretty confident this guy knows what he's doing and he's ready to go."
Ryu has been to Dodger Stadium previously in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and he's stated that his goal is to earn NL Rookie of the Year honors.
Kershaw hit his first career homer to lead off a four-run eighth inning for Los Angeles to support his effort on the mound Monday. He struck out seven and walked none.
Marco Scutaro went 0 for 4 after closing the 2012 regular season on a career-high 20-game hitting streak.
The Giants wasted a solid effort from Matt Cain, who struck out eight over six scoreless innings.
They will try to bounce back behind Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37 ERA), who matched Cain for the team lead in victories in 2012. He wasn't as effective in the postseason, going 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA although the victory came with his seven innings in a 2-0 win in Game 2 of the World Series against Detroit.
The left-hander is 5-2 with a 3.05 ERA in seven starts against the Dodgers. He's fared well against two of their key lefty-swinging batters in Andre Ethier (1 for 13) and Adrian Gonzalez (2 for 11).
Bumgarner's 4.07 ERA in April is his highest in any month.