(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Dodgers turn to rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu on Sunday, as the National League Division Series shifts to Dodger Stadium for a pivotal Game 3 against the Atlanta Braves.
Ryu was a seven-time All Star in the Korean Baseball Organization, but signed a 6-year, $36 million deal with the Dodgers last winter. The left-hander adapted quickly to the majors, going 14-6 with a 3.00 ERA.
"He's such a smart, intuitive guy who has a great feel for the game of baseball," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "We've really grown together, him and I working together. He's grown with a lot of guys on the team."
However, Ryu went just 2-5 over his final seven starts, while also dealing with a back ailment that forced him to miss a start in early September. Ryu raised some eyebrows on Friday when he tossed a bullpen session in front of the Dodgers' team surgeon.
Everyone has insisted that he is fine, though.
"Actually, I feel really good right now. My goal is just to get my body ready to be able to go out there and win, and take the lead of the series," Ryu said on Saturday. "Typically, when I rest longer than normal, I always squeeze in a bullpen in there just to make sure that my body is responding the way I want it to."
Ryu will also become the first South Korean pitcher to start a postseason game. Chan Ho Park and Byung-Hyun Kim have combined to make 21 postseason appearances, but neither ever started a game.
"It's a huge motivation to know that an entire country's going to be watching the game," Ryu said. "But equally important is the fans here at Dodger Stadium and the Korean community here. I understand there are going to be a lot of them coming out (Sunday), but it's a big encouragement for me."
Atlanta, meanwhile, will counter with a rookie hurler of its own in right- hander Julio Teheran, who was 14-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Teheran got better as the season wore on and pitched to a 2.97 ERA after the All-Star break.
"He's a young kid," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We've seen him for 162 games. He just keeps getting better and maturing with experience, and I think we've just seen the tip of the iceberg with him."
After losing to Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, Atlanta evened the best-of-five series on Friday, as lefty Mike Minor gave up one run in 6 1/3 innings and the Braves held on for a 4-3 win to knot the series at a game apiece.
Jason Heyward's two-run single in the seventh gave Atlanta the insurance runs it needed for its first postseason win in three years.
Hanley Ramirez's two-run homer in the eighth got the Dodgers within a run, but Craig Kimbrel came on for a four-out save.
"Every night in the postseason is a must-win game for us," said Heyward. "You don't want to ever think it's OK to lose. That's been our attitude all year. I feel like any team that's in the postseason says we need to win tonight and we came up big."
Kimbrel walked two in the ninth, but Gerald Laird threw out pinch-runner Dee Gordon on a close play and Kimbrel struck out Carl Crawford with a runner on first to end the game.
"We came in and got one out of two in here," said Crawford. "We knew it was going to be a tough place to play with the crowd and everything. We had the opportunity to win two. We just gotta go back and get back on track."
Atlanta won five of its seven regular-season matchups with the Dodgers this season. However, these teams haven't met in the postseason since the Braves swept the NLDS back in 1996.