"Even if they know it's a direct ball, batters can't hit it, Where is this finish?" FA's biggest word
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"Even batters know it's a straight ball. But I can't play."
KT closer Kim Jae-yoon (33) led the team to a 5-4 victory in the 10th inning of extra time by blocking two innings with a perfect score, including two strikeouts, against Hanwha in Daejeon on the 19th. A total of 28 pitches were thrown, except for five sliders and one forkball, and the remaining 22 were fastballs.
In the ninth inning, Hanwha Ha Joo-seok and Nick Williams stepped down with a foul fly to third base due to Kim Jae-yoon's fastball power. In the 10th inning, 'No. 1 home run' Noh Si-hwan also struck out twice on Kim Jae-yoon's fastball. He was hit by a 149-kilometer high fastball. Kim In-hwan, the last batter, also struck out three times on Kim Jae-yoon's fastball. The fourth fastball thrown against Kim In-hwan became a ball, but it was measured at 151.2 kilometers per hour based on the track vein.
The next day, KT manager Lee Kang-chul admired Kim Jae-yoon, saying, "The ball was really good," adding, "It was a ball that I didn't know and hit." Even batters know it's a fastball, but they can't. The fastball goes into the height where the batters' bats cannot come out, and he said, "I really can't hit that ball. I thought, 'It's. "My arm came out better than usual," he said.
Head coach Lee Kang-chul then said, "Where is the finishing pitcher who blocks it so stably?" "I was really grateful that he blocked two innings," he continued with a smile. Kim Jae-yoon, who also took the mound in the ninth inning against Hanwha on the 20th, kept KT's 3-0 victory by three outs with 10 balls. Kim Jae-yoon's stake is considerable in KT's 80% (.808) winning rate with 21 wins and 5 losses in the second half. He has locked the back door perfectly with 12 games (14 innings) in the second half with 1 win, 8 saves, and a 0.64 ERA.
Kim Jae-yoon, who was selected by KT as the 13th overall pick in the second special draft in 2015, grew up with the newly founded team. Since 2016, he has established himself as a closer and has accumulated 159 saves in his career, and kept the mound at the moment of winning the first Korean Series in KT's foundation in 2021. He is a former catcher, and his stone-like fastball is his trademark, and he is having a career-high season this year.
He pitched 47⅔ innings in 42 games this season, recording 4 wins, 2 losses, 22 saves, and a 1.32 strikeouts and 42 ERA. After SSG Seo Jin-yong (32) and Lotte Kim Won-joong (23), he ranked third in saves. Kim Jae-yoon is the best in detailed figures such as ERA, WHIP (0.82) and batting average (.1181). It is safe to say that Kim Jae-yoon is currently the best finish in terms of stability and utilization, up to five multi-inning innings, the most.
Kim Jae-yoon will be eligible for FA for the first time in his life after this season. In the upcoming winter KBO League FA market, there are no large-scale players compared to recent years. On the pitcher side, Lim Chan-kyu, Ham Deok-ju (LG), Joo Kwon (KT), and Hong Gun-hee (Doosan) are noteworthy, but Kim Jae-yoon is the most proven resource as a finishing pitcher. FA hitters include Yang Seok-hwan (Doosan) and An Chi-hong (Lotte), and Kim Jae-yoon deserves to compete with them for the biggest fish.
FA bullpen pitchers in their 30s have risks, but there are also successes like Jung Woo-ram and Son Seung-rak. Kim Jae-yoon's strength is his durability, which he has consistently done without major injuries throughout his career. That much, sincerity was supported. Coach Lee Kang-chul said, "(In the off-season) Jae-yoon goes to the baseball stadium and exercises almost every day. He said, "I take good care of my own." He is also a player that KT cannot miss.