Nurture, closure → joker utilization…half the battle

Kiwoom Heroes manager Hong Won-ki used his closer, Kim Jae-woong, as a “joker” against the LG Twins on April 9, a decision he made in the context of “using the best bullpen pitcher in the game”.

In his next 18 games, Kim went 7-11 with a .389 winning percentage. That ranked ninth out of 10 clubs. The team was up and down, twice losing three games in a row.

The bullpen wasn’t bad, posting a 3.44 ERA (5th). Despite allowing three come-from-behind losses, they had a decent record in games leading up to the seventh inning, with a winning percentage of 0.857. Im Chang-min, who took over for Kim Jae-woong as the closer, also recorded three saves in four games. He allowed just one earned run.

Kim Jae-woong’s pitching situation was not a popular one. He was down 0-1, and he took the mound with the game tied. He also pitched the second inning. Sometimes he faced only one batter. He came in when the bench deemed it a “game-winner.

In his 10 appearances, Kim had three holds. Seven were scoreless. Two games were blown out. Against the LG Twins in Jamsil on Sept. 9, Kim left the game in the bottom of the eighth inning with a 4-2 lead, but gave up a tying two-run homer to LG’s Park Dong-won to earn a blown save. Kiwoom lost the game 4-5.

In his most recent outing, a 0-0 tie in the top of the seventh inning against the Gocheok Lotte Giants on July 27, starter Choi Won-tae took over the mound after six scoreless innings and allowed only leadoff hitter Yoon Dong-hee to reach on an infield single before giving up four straight hits. Kiwoom gave up four runs in quick succession, including a walk to Kim Jae-woong. The offense fought back in the bottom of the ninth, but couldn’t make up the difference in the seventh and lost 6-5.

No bullpen pitcher can get through every inning without giving up a hit or a run. However, Kim Jae-woong’s individual performance has dropped significantly from before he became the Joker. His ERA went from 2.79 in his first 10 games as a closer to 7.56. Since bullpen pitchers typically pitch fewer innings than starters, ERAs are relatively meaningless. However, it is true that Kim Jae-woong’s ups and downs in pitching have been greater than before. His batting average, which was 0.206, went up to 0.294.

Regardless of the effect of the Kiwoom bench’s decision to use a closer as a joker or whether the bullpen has stabilized since then, it’s hard to say that Kim Jae-woong is the most reliable pitcher in the bullpen right now.먹튀검증

If Im settles in as the closer, the choice to use a specific pitcher as a joker will be justified. However, Kiwoom has taken on a new task: saving Kim Jae-woong.

Kim Jae-woong is a pitcher who was on pace to win the World Series last season (2022) and accepted the role change to close for the team. Player morale also needs to be considered.

It will be interesting to see how Kiwoom, who has always been able to adapt to the variables, will fare this time around.

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