“I think he’s more confident now, and he’s more relaxed on the mound.”
This year is definitely different. No more waiting in the wings. Kim Jin-wook, 21, is brimming with confidence after becoming a must-win pitcher.
Kim was born in 2002. He was born a year after Lee Dae-ho (2001), who retired last year. The last time the Lotte Giants reached the Korean Series was in 1999, three years before that. In the last decade, the team has only made the semi-finals once, in 2017.
This is the strongest Lotte team since Kim Jin-wook started watching baseball. The stands are packed at home and away. “When the team does well, I do well, and when I do well, the team seems to be on the upswing,” Kim said. “I feel like I can throw better in home games than away games, and this year’s games are similar,” he smiled brightly.
This is the third year of his debut. Gone are the fidgety moments on the mound. The weight is gone. In 22 games, he has a 2-1 record with five saves and a 1.77 ERA. What made the difference?
“My changeup is the biggest thing. Last year, I had one fastball in the count. My changeup was mostly used to trick the eye. So hitters came in looking for a lot of fastballs, and when I started, I didn’t have a lot of movement… This year, I have a curve slider, so I have a lot of different fastball changeup patterns. I think that’s what makes it tricky for hitters.”
Last offseason, Kang followed him around like a mother-in-law. The change in pitching form is the result. Coaches Bae Young-soo and Kim Hyun-wook also helped with balance. “Not winding up seems to help,” Kim said. I’ve gained a lot of stability in terms of flexibility and center movement when throwing the ball.”
Lotte is 24-1 with a lead after the seventh inning. Although the streak was broken by a come-from-behind loss on the 28th, the pitching staff of Kim Jin-wook, Kim Sang-soo, Goo Seung-min, and Kim Won-joong has been at the center of the team’s rise. 스포츠토토
Above all, there is a deep trust between the teammates. The coaching staff, including LOTTE head coach Larry Sutton, has also been actively engaging with the players to boost the team atmosphere. “We’re always trying to play confidently and at a fast tempo without dragging,” said Kim Jin-wook.
In June, the roster for the Hangzhou Asian Games will be announced. Kim is not hiding his desire.
“I did well after the last Olympics (in Tokyo), and it was a great experience to share a room with such great seniors and get their tips. I’m going to do my best and wait for the good news.”