LG Twins closer Ko Woo-seok can go to the Asian Games with confidence.
The news that Ham Deok-ju’s elbow inflammation hasn’t improved and he won’t be returning for the season has raised concerns about who will replace Ko Woo-seok as the closer. Baek Seung-hyun, a former ‘Oh Ji-hwan successor’ turned pitcher, is the protagonist.
Seung-hyun Baek came into relief in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 2-0 game against the SSG Landers at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on the 21st, allowing just one hit and no walks until the bottom of the ninth to preserve the team’s 2-1 victory.
He gave up only one run in a big inning with the bases loaded and showed great heart to end the ninth without allowing a run and secure the win. With LG in need of a replacement for closer Ko Woo-seok, who will be called up to the Asian Games squad on the 23rd, they will have to keep an eye on Baek Seung-hyun for his solid closing skills.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Yoo Young-chan walked Choo Shin-soo and gave up a straight ball to Guillermo Heredia at second. A fastball to No. 3 Choi Jung turned into a double down the right field line. Runners on first and second. The next three pitches to Han Yoo-seom were all pitches, and the fourth was a straight fly ball that was missed. With the bases loaded, I changed pitchers.
LG manager Yeom Kyung-yup’s choice was Baek Seung-hyun, who sprinkles fastballs. He faced Park Sung-hyun, who had two hits on the day. A 149-kilometer fastball in the 21st inning was hit by Woo Hyo-dong at first base. Whether the pitch hit the first baseman’s mitt or not was a question of fair or foul, but the umpires decided to call it fair due to consensus, and the video review did not find any reason to overturn it, so it was recognized as fair. However, because the first base umpire Woo Hyo-dong, who was hit by the ball, did not make a fair/foul call, Han Yoo-seom, the first baseman, did not run to second base, which allowed Heredia to score and Choi Jung, the second baseman, to advance to third base, but Han Yoo-seom was ruled out. Down 2-1, runners on first and third. Baek Seung-hyun faced Oh Tae-gon after a 20 minute delay, but he calmly threw five consecutive sliders and got a grounder in front of the second baseman to end the tie.
In the bottom of the ninth, after getting Choi Ji-hoon to fly out to right field, Baek Seung-hyun threw five straight fastballs to pinch-hitter Kim Kang-min, but he allowed a walk. He fought Choi Jun-woo for six straight pitches and got him to hit a foul fly to third base, and Choo Shin-soo threw three straight pitches but threw a 147-kilometer fastball on the fourth pitch to second baseman Shin Min-jae, who made a defensive shift to the outfield, to get the final out.
It was Baek’s second save of the season.
The first was a tough save in the ninth inning. On June 14 at home against the Samsung Lions in Jamsil, he came in with the bases loaded and one out in the top of the ninth inning of a 3-2 win, struck out Kang Min-ho on a wild pitch and got Kim Dong-yeop on a line drive to shortstop to end the game.
He confirmed that he can throw his stuff in crunch time.
Seung-hyun Baek was drafted in the 30th round of the 2015 secondary draft out of Incheon High School, where he was a shortstop prospect. In 2019, he showed signs of improvement, batting 3-for-3 in 56 games with the second team (60 hits in 198 at-bats), but after the season, he joined Geelong Korea to gain experience and play in the Australian League. It was there that his life changed. Forced to take the mound due to a pitching shortage, Seung-hyun Baek made headlines with a fastball that hit 154 kilometers.
He returned to Korea, but his 154-kilometer fastball followed him like a tag. The opportunity still didn’t come, and he eventually decided to give up on his fastball. In the middle of the 2020 season, he asked the club to switch to pitching, and they agreed.
After a strong start in 2021, in which he appeared in 16 games, recorded his first career hold and posted a 2.16 ERA, Baek started last year in the first team, where he only appeared in 12 games, went 1-0 with one hold and a 10.80 ERA. He was in the process of building his body as a pitcher. 메이저사이트
This year, in his third year as a pitcher, he has definitely improved. In 33 games, he has a 1-0 record, 2 saves, 7 shutouts, and a 1.95 ERA. In 32⅓ innings pitched, he’s struck out 27 batters and walked just 14. His walks per inning allowed (WHIP) is 1.08. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 1.18. He’s faced 21 hits, with only two home runs and two doubles. The fact that he can confidently throw a fastball that reaches nearly 150 mph is a big plus.
The best-case scenario for LG would be to win by a comfortable margin and not be forced into a save situation. However, if it’s a close game, it could be a chance for the younger Pil-Seung-jo to showcase their development.