KIA has had a shaky starting rotation all season. It seemed to be coming together, but recently, another hole opened up. Foreign player Mario Sanchez is out with an elbow injury. While he’s recovering faster than expected, we won’t see him on the mound for the foreseeable future.
By the time Sanchez returns, Lee will probably not be in Korea. Lee has been called up to the national team for the Hangzhou Asian Games. He will join the team on September 22. He only has two more appearances before he goes. On top of that, he has a tight schedule. I played a doubleheader against LG in Gwangju on September 9, and I still have two more to go. I need a backup starter, and so far, the fog hasn’t lifted.
I’ve also tended to favor bullpen relievers over alternatives when a starter goes down, so I haven’t experimented enough with alternatives. It’s clear that this is an end-of-season concern. In such a situation, KIA fans saw a ray of hope on the ninth. They saw the promise of second-year pitcher Hwang Dong-ha (21). He’s still young and doesn’t have much first-team experience, but he’s showing signs of being a decent starter with each appearance.
Hwang Dong-ha, who was drafted in the seventh round (65th overall) of the 2022 Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) Draft after graduating from Inseong High School, has been steadily working his way through the second-team rotation this year. On August 20, he made a start for the Daegu Samsung Electronics and impressed the coaching staff by allowing three runs in 4⅔ innings.
Although he doesn’t have a fastball, he has a relatively good fastball, and his aggressive and cool pitching showed a boldness that is not typical of a young player. Despite having a cold shoulder due to rain delays, he stayed on the mound until the fifth inning, earning applause from the fans.
He was then promoted to the No. 1 alternate starter and given an important task at the end of the season. Kia manager Kim Jong-guk said that Hwang has always had an aggressive mindset, and said, “You have to be a little more sophisticated with your command with long-hitting players. He has good aggressive pitches and a good repertoire, so I asked him to work on that a little bit,” he said. And Hwang showed off his maturity by fulfilling that bench order.
Kia got over a crucial hump by taking both games of a doubleheader against LG at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on Sept. 9. It was Hwang Dong-ha, who started Game 1, who laid the foundation for the doubleheader victory. He was able to calmly control the momentum of league leader LG, the league’s strongest batting lineup, and LG’s big win the day before. With a little more defense and batting support, the result could have been even better.
The top speed of the four-seam fastball was 144 kilometers per hour. The average was 141. But he had good command of his pitches and a good mix of sliders and forkballs. The slider had a nice break, and it had a nice aggressive tempo. I got the ball, read the catcher’s sign, and just threw it. There were several times when Hwang’s fastball tempo caused LG hitters to be unprepared from the first pitch. The rookie was pushing the LG hitters.
Although he was pulled after back-to-back hits in the fifth inning, he still managed to go 4 1/3 innings, throwing 70 pitches and allowing two runs on four hits. Kia was actually down in the starting matchup in Game 1, but Hwang Dong-ha pitched above and beyond expectations, setting the stage for the closer to come in and take over the game with a 7-6 victory.안전놀이터
The momentum carried over to game two. Hwang Dong-ha completed the doubleheader sweep. Kia head coach Kim Jong-kook said, “Hwang Dong-ha pitched well and met the manager’s expectations. Even though he gave up a run in the fifth inning, he did his job well,” he said.
I’m not expecting an ace performance. We have an expanded roster right now. We have a lot of bullpen guys waiting in the wings. We have a lot of bullpen pitchers waiting in the wings. If Lee goes to the Asian Games, there’s a good chance he could take over. For Hwang Dong-ha, it’s still a big opportunity to show what he can do with less pressure. KIA is aiming for the final spurt of the season, having found one more card to raise their hopes in the midst of a crisis.