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Kim Kwang-hyun shows off changeups as new hidden weapon

Posted May. 07, 2022 07:18,   

Updated May. 07, 2022 07:18


The pitcher that has given the fewest earned runs in the Korean professional baseball as of Friday is Kim Kwang-hyun. The ‘returned ace pitcher’ of the SSG Landers has an ERA of 0.56 to rank atop in this category, beating over Drew Rucinski (0.92) of the NC Dinos. Kim has garnered four wins in five games he has pitched thus far. He joined the Landers after agonizing over whether to stay in the Major League Baseball or to return to SSG as recently as early March, but has been fulfilling his duty 100 percent from early days of this season.

Originally, Kim’s flagship pitches were sliders. He would perform power pitching by banking on his fastballs and sliders and would thus be considered a ‘pitcher of two pitch types.’ However, he added changeups to that repertoire and is now successful even in controlling the speed and type of his changeups.

Kim’s changeups have advanced by one notch in this season. According to Spotistics’ ‘Trackman Baseball’ that analyzes pitching and batting data by using military radar technology, the rotations per minute of Kim’s changeups has increased from 1,596 in 2019 prior to his move to the Major League to 1,661 this season.

It is also meaningful that the average speed of his changeups has increased from 128.1 kilometers per hour in 2019 to 131.1 kilometers. Generally, the ideal speed of a pitcher’s changeups is in the range of 88 to 90 percent of his fastballs.

“Both batters and the catcher think of me as changeups. I hope that people call me Changeup,” Kim said. “The trajectory of his changeups, which bend toward outer section of the strike zone for a righthanded batter, is the same as that of general changeups,” said Kim Jeong-joon, the chief of the Landers’ data center. “In the past, Kim Kwang-hyun’s changeups were not sophisticated enough, but he now freely controls his changeups.”

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com