I gave up the starting spot to a 19-year-old rookie pitcher, but I didn’t get frustrated. With all his heart, he stood tall as the bullpen ace. KIA sidearm pitcher Lim Ki-young (30) is having a meaningful season, raising his value as a bullpen.
Lim Ki-young has been active as a starting pitcher for KIA since 2017, when he returned from military service. He won 8 starts that year and contributed to the combined championship, and he served as a starter for 6 years until last year. He threw 153 innings, the most in 2020, and won 9 wins. Last year, he did not follow the win with 4 wins and 13 losses in 26 games, but he threw 129⅓ innings with an average ERA of 4.24 and 5 starts.
However, this year Lim Ki-young moved to Salvation. He competed for the 5th starting position until the exhibition game with Yoon Young-cheol (19), a new left-hander who joined as the 2nd overall pick in the 1st round this year, but was pushed back. With Yoon Young-cheol dropped as the fifth starter, Lim Ki-young started with a long relief. It hurt his pride, but Lim Ki-young was faithful to his mission, and now he has become an indispensable pitcher in the KIA bullpen.
He pitched 59 innings in pure relief in 41 games this season, recording 1 win, 1 loss, 2 saves, 11 holds, an ERA of 2.44, 42 strikeouts, a WHIP of 0.88, and a 0.88 batting average. His ERA, WHIP, and batting average all recorded career highs. He has 11 multi-innings of 2 or more innings, and he throws more often than anyone else with 3 consecutive innings once and 2 consecutive innings 9 times.
Lim Ki-young said, “I’m not the only one suffering, everyone is suffering. I am trying to manage my fitness well. Eat well, sleep well. I am digesting all the weights and running schedules given by the training coach so that my physical strength does not drop,” he said. “From the beginning of the season, I set a goal to throw long innings in the middle. The more you throw, the more you help the team.”
There was no regret for missing out on the selection. “It would be a lie if I said I had no regrets about the selection. However, since the demonstration game, (Yoon) Yeong-chul was the starter and I was in the middle, thinking that the team would be better, so I prepared in advance. Last year, I did a few times in the middle, but with the thought that if I did well here, my value would go up, so I tried to focus more and show a good image.”
As Lim Ki-young said, KIA has achieved stability on the mound. Newcomer Yoon Young-chul, who entered as the 5th starter, established himself with an average ERA of 3.81 with 7 wins and 4 losses in 16 games (80⅓ innings), and both sides improved as Lim Ki-young was reborn as the bullpen ace. The team’s ERA rose from 6th place (4.20) last year to 3rd place (3.89) this year. In particular, the salvation ERA has remarkably stabilized from 7th (4.70) to 2nd (3.33).
Lim Ki-young held the center of the bullpen. I’m greedy, but right now it’s right to throw in the direction the team wants from my position. Team performance must be achieved unconditionally, and my value goes up only when I match it. Team performance is the first priority rather than individual performance or greed,” he repeatedly emphasized
. Lim Ki-young said, “When I was starting out, I didn’t eat anything that day, but the bullpen had to go to the game every day, so I ate before the game.” When it was a starter, after the 5th inning, when the other line went around 3 laps, I got hit a lot. Now, before the other line goes around one lap, I play with the type of pitch I am most confident in, so it seems that the number of long hits and regular hits has decreased.” During that time, only one home run was allowed. 꽁머니
“As for the starters, if I fail to pitch in one game, I feel a lot of pressure because I think I have to pitch well in the next game on the 4th or 5th. Even if you can’t throw the middle today, it’s good to be able to throw right away tomorrow,” said Lim Ki-young, “There are so many good pitchers in our bullpen. There is a belief that pitchers behind him will block even if the runner goes down. When we think of each other like that, the results come out well,” he thanked his colleagues. KIA also ranked third (34.6%) in the successor runner’s loss rate this year, which is low. With strong support from the bullpen centered on Lim Ki-young, KIA jumped into the fight for 5th place with a win rate of 70% (.714) with 15 wins, 6 losses and 1 draw since July.