A 33-year-old “veteran rookie,” who made his debut at Major League Baseball (MLB) this season, is showing a solid performance in recent weeks. There have been talks about the possibility of Kim being named the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year. This MLB rookie is Kim Kwang-hyun of the St. Louis Cardinals, who went to the big league after playing in the Korean Baseball League for 13 seasons.
Kim pitched five scoreless innings, allowing three hits and two walks, and striking four against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, Ohio on Tuesday local time. He picked up his second win of the season and lowered his ERA from 1.09 to 0.83.
Although the Reds (16-20) is a relatively weak team in NL Central, standing at No. 4, the opposing pitcher was Sonny Gray, who is vying for the NL wins leader with 5-1. Before Wednesday’s game, he was ranked 6th in MLB with a 1.94 ERA. Gray was a strong opponent considering that Kim has had only four games as a starting pitcher in MLB.
The Cardinals’ batting lineup lightened the burden for Kim from early in the game on the day. The Reds’ Gray was replaced early on as the Cardinals, which scored an average of seven points in the previous two games, scored six runs (five hits and three walks) on two outs in the first inning. The Cardinals scored 11 points until the fifth inning while Kim was on mound and added five more points to finish the game 16-2. It was the highest point scored by the Cardinals this season. Kim was able to watch the game from the dugout from the sixth inning after throwing 85 pitches until the fifth inning.
Kim, who first took the mound as a starting pitcher in MLB on Aug. 18 against the Chicago Cubs, has shown a stellar performance ever since. After giving up a solo homer to Ian Happ in the fourth inning during his first outing as a starting pitcher, Kim has been pitching 17 and 2/3 scoreless innings. With a 0.44 ERA, Kim’s slider is considered his strongest weapon in his arsenal, and is getting fiercer game after game. Of the 324 pitches Kim threw in his five outings, including one as a reliever, 105 of them (32.4%) was a slider. He threw 28 sliders out of the 85 pitches (32.9%) on Tuesday. Kim induced four swing-and-miss results using sliders when he recorded four strikeouts on Wednesday.
“I’ve been lucky so far. I’ve never thought of winning the Rookie of the Year,” said Kim after the game. “I want my team to produce good results. It’d be nice to have a formula that says, ‘If KK starts, the Cardinals can win.’” As Kim’s simple wish, the Cardinals had a winning percentage of 0.800 (4-1) in the five games Kim played, which is higher than the season’s winning percentage of 0.519 (14-13).
Bae-Jung Kim firstname.lastname@example.org