“I feel like last year”.
LG Twins left-hander Kim Yun-sik (23) has returned as the homegrown ace. On May 8 against the KIA Tigers in Gwangju, he pitched 5⅔ innings of seven-hit ball, striking out three and giving up one run (one earned) in a 12-2 win. It was his first win of the season in 110 days, since May 21 against Hanwha.
He pitched well for the second straight game after returning from a grueling three-month second-team reassignment. He followed up his five-inning, one-run performance against Hanwha on May 2 with a strong performance against a hard-hitting KIA team. The team became the first to reach the 70-win plateau. They have a 75% chance of winning the regular season. They remain 6.5 games behind the second-place KT Wiz.
Kim Yun-sik was expected to be the third starter heading into the season. He emerged as a solid starter in the second half of last year. He went 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA in five games in September, including a 5⅔ inning, three-hit shutout in Game 1 of the playoffs against the Kiwoom Heroes, and earned a spot on the WBC team.
However, from April onward, he struggled with his command of the ball and his velocity dropped to the 130km/h range, leading to a disastrous outing against Kiwoom on June 8, when he gave up seven runs on 12 hits in five innings. Manager Yoon Kyung-yeop made a decision and sent him to the second team indefinitely. In effect, he restarted spring training, which took three months.
The move was made with the expectation that Kim Yun-sik would be a big boost for the September fight if he could come back properly. Yeom’s judgment was spot-on. His pitching balance stabilized and he regained his fastball velocity. He topped out at 146 mph and averaged 142 mph. The angle on his slider was sharp, and his changeup and curve were solid.
Most importantly, he was confident and in control on the mound. Coach Yeom said after the game, “He did his part as a starting pitcher. I’m looking forward to seeing him get back to his good form and I think he’ll be a big help to the team. I look forward to maintaining the balance we have now.”
After the game, Kim Yun-sik said, “I was more nervous than in the previous game, to the point where I couldn’t control my body. My ball pressure was much better than in the previous match. I went in with more confidence and it paid off. Recently, I saw NC Pedi and Doosan Kwak-bin get hit by KIA batters. I threw some pitches that were down, and I thought it was time to come down, even though the KIA batters were up a lot,” he laughed.
“It was frustrating. I wasn’t feeling well at first, and with (Lee) Min-ho down, I thought I’d hold on, but it became a vicious cycle. When I was in the second team, I thought about it a lot and trained hard, and one by one, I found my balance. Little by little, the puzzle came together. I lost a lot of weight, so I decided to eat a lot and train hard. I think it had a good effect,” he said, evaluating the three-month camp.메이저놀이터
It was a long second team stint that required patience, but he eventually found a solution. “The more I went, the more stressed I got. I wasn’t sleeping, I was struggling, and I was watching a lot of footage when things were going well, and I started to see problems. There were a lot of balls that were going up the middle. I was trying to throw them all at once when I should have been throwing them with the center behind me. The same with the changeup, I was only swinging at the front. I asked the batters and they said they saw the ball first. Last year, they said they couldn’t see the ball coming from behind,” he explained.
The return to form last September was also positive. “I think I’m getting some of that feeling back. My fastball is actually better than last year. My balance and confidence is not as good as it was then, but I think if I regain more confidence, it will be better at the end. I hope to be good in the remaining games and help us win the regular season. I didn’t really think about it (starting the championship game), but if it happens, I will remember it for the rest of my life,” he laughed.