One-two punch for LG 2020 roster full of dreams and hopes, summer camps side by side, replacements throw faster balls
Summer camp at a second-tier facility in the middle of a pennant race. Fourth year pro. He was expected to be the homegrown one-two punch of the future and has shown some impressive flashes, but has struggled this year. LG right-hander Lee Min-ho (22) and left-hander Kim Yun-sik (23), who were drafted in the first and second rounds of the 2020 draft, respectively, have had a rough go of it.
The pre-season plan was the opposite. Coach Yoon Kyung-yeop selected 아톰카지노 four starters early: Casey Kelly, Adam Plutko, Kim Yun-sik, and Lee Min-ho. The team entered spring training with a fifth spot open, and Kang Hyo-jong won the final spot to start the 2023 season.
But now, at the halfway point of the pennant race, all three of the homegrown starters have changed. Im Chan-kyu, a former backup in the starting rotation, is now the third starter after a career-high season, while Lee Min-ho, Kim Yoon-sik, and Kang Hyo-jong are not on the first team roster. Lee Ji-gang and Lee Jung-yong, who made his debut as a starter on May 25, are now the 4-5 starters.
The change was somewhat expected. “I wish we could have a homegrown ace,” Yeom said, “but we need to have enough long-relief and bullpen resources for games where the starters go down early. We will keep a close eye on the pitchers rotating in the second team as well,” emphasizing Plan B.
Still, it doesn’t seem likely that Lee Min-ho and Kim Yun-sik will struggle together. They both looked good coming into the season. Kim went 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA in 11 games in the second half of last year. He also pitched well in Game 3 of the playoffs, his first postseason start. Lee was clearly aware of his challenges and has been working on diversifying his pitching patterns since camp. He relied less on his fastball and slider and more on his curveball and changeup.
However, once the season got underway, his hopes were dashed. Kim Yun-sik suffered from back pain at the end of last year and is still dealing with the after-effects of the World Baseball Classic (WBC). Lee Min-ho showed promise in the first game of the season on April 5 against Gochuk Kiwoom with 5.1 innings of relief before leaving with elbow pain.
Both were given chances to overcome their injuries or slumps, but neither rebounded. Most of all, they struggle with hitters because they don’t have their usual velocity. Kim Yun-sik, who had a fastball velocity of 142.5 kilometers per hour last year, is at 140 kilometers per hour this year. Lee Min-ho went from 145.5 kilometers last year to 142.2 kilometers this year. Of the five games Min-ho has pitched this season, the only one where he has maintained his average velocity from last year is the first game against Kiwoom.
Lee Ji-gang, who was given the opportunity to start in place of Lee Min-ho, threw his fastest pitch of the season against the Changwon NC on April 22. He came in after Lee Min-ho, who had only pitched one inning, and threw a fastball with an average velocity of 145.1 kilometers per hour. He pitched five scoreless innings, keeping the batters focused with his fastball. Lee Ji-gang showed the same fearlessness and aggressiveness that Lee Min-ho has shown in the past.
Lee Jung-yong also finished his first start in a meaningful way. With limited pitches, he pitched two innings against Jamsil Lotte on May 25 and gave up one run. His fastball averages 144.8 kilometers per hour. He has pitched harder than Lee Min-ho and Kim Yun-sik this year. Lee Jung-yong, who initially planned to make the transition to starting after joining the commerce, plans to throw more pitches in his next start.
Nothing has been finalized yet. The rotation changes almost every week amid the unwelcome auditions. Yoon believes that if they can stabilize at least four starters, they will be on their way to the top. After all, they only need one more constant, and the outcome is unpredictable. Lee Ji-gang is the current leader in the fourth-place audition. If Lee Min-ho and Kim Yoon-sik, who have been given time until the second half of the season, fail to find their form, the plan set in camp could change 180 degrees.