“Choi Jeong (37-SSG Landers) is a hitter that everyone knows well. I was nervous, but I decided to not look at the name of the batter as much as I do on the mound and just throw my pitches, 100%.”

Kim Taek-yeon (Doosan Bears), 19, already had his mindset and pitches down. His unwavering strength in the face of the KBO’s best hitter helped secure the win for Doosan.

Kim came into relief with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh inning of the 2024 KBO League regular season home game against SSG at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on April 22 and pitched one and two-thirds perfect innings, striking out two and walking none to earn his second win of the season.

It was a literal “save” for the team. Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop has been using his bullpen pitchers for as few innings as possible lately in an attempt to preserve wins. On this day, he used Kim Kang-ryul, Lee Byung-heon, and Choi Ji-kang in the sixth and seventh innings to protect a 1-0 lead. However, it didn’t go as planned. Choi Ji-hoon hit a tying triple, putting runners on third and fourth with no outs. The next batter, Park Sung-han, struck out, but Choi Jung-jeong and Guillermo Heredia, the centerpiece of SSG’s batting order, were waiting for Doosan.

The card to play in the most critical time was none other than nineteen-year-old rookie Kim Taek-yeon. Kim, who had saved the tying run in the ninth inning the day before, was up to the task once again. His first opponent was Choi Jung-chung, who hit 471 career home runs. It was too much for the rookie to handle.

But Kim had already struck out swinging against major leaguers. He wasn’t intimidated by Choi, either. After a full-count battle with Choi, Kim finally got a fastball into the strike zone for a swinging strikeout. The next batter, Heredia, flied out to right field to end the game. His performance was worth more than the save he recorded.

“Everyone knows Choi Jung,” Kim told the press after the game, “but I was nervous, but I decided to compete without looking at the batter’s name as much as I did on the mound. I just tried to throw my own ball, 100%.”

Despite her young age, Kim is a seasoned pitcher. “My brother (catcher Kim Ki-yeon) threw the mitt to the high side of the body, which is a body sign,” Kim explains, “I thought it would be a lot of distraction for the batter because I was trying to induce a false swing with my changeup and then get a false swing on the high side of the body.”

A seasoned mix is the result of research. When I asked Kim about his post-game review, he said, “I have an image of what I was thinking when I threw, and then I check the actual pitch. My 메이저사이트 changeup tended to get off the pitch tunnel a lot more than my slider. I check for that a lot these days. I also look at the hitter’s reaction when I throw the in-high course.”

“I’m trying to throw more up and down instead of left and right of the strike zone. I need to refine my changeup more. My curve has improved a bit, but it’s still not good enough.” ”Even in the United States, pitchers with good fastballs are really good at using the top and bottom. I think Spencer Strider (Atlanta Braves) and Gerrit Cole (New York Yankees) have really good fastballs, so I look up to them a lot. The older catchers are also really good with high and low pitches. I definitely try to throw low and high after two strikes,” Kim said.

With the win, Kim improved to 2-1 with three saves and lowered his ERA to 1.90. Kim has a lot of competition, including Kim Bum-seok (LG Twins) and Jeon Mir (Lotte Giants), but he is considered one of the favorites to win the Rookie of the Year award. However, Kim said, “I don’t think it’s time to think about the Rookie of the Year right now. I need to improve more,” he shook his head. When asked if he has any aspirations to be a starting pitcher, he said, “I need to work on my changeup to utilize my fastball, which is my strength. There’s still a lot of season left. I’m just trying to stay healthy and do my best in the role I’m given.”


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