Left-hander Yoo Hee-kwan (37-Retired) and submarine pitcher Ko Young-pyo (32-KT Wiz), who earned the nickname “campfire bowler” to contrast with fireballer. Though their styles are different, Im Chan-kyu (31-LG Twins) found them enlightening. That’s why he’s having a career-high season in his 11th season in the KBO.
Lim has been the reason LG has been able to finish the first half of the season in sole possession of first place. After failing to secure a solid starting spot before the season, he has earned it back and is now 6-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 17 games, making him the de facto No. 2 starter behind Adam Plutko (11-1, 2.21 ERA).
LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop earlier expressed his satisfaction with the first half of the season, but said he was disappointed that his most important starting pitching staff didn’t work out. However, he also gave a thumbs-up to Chan-gyu, saying, “We didn’t lose back-to-back games and we could have won the title.”
According to baseball statistics site Statiz, Lim’s average fastball velocity this season was only 141.6 kilometers per hour. While the numbers don’t seem competitive, Lim has made the biggest impact since his debut this season.
Coach Yeom had a stake in it. “He never talked about speed,” Lim said after the team’s training session on Sunday at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. He said he doesn’t look at the scoreboard,” he said, adding, “What’s the point of throwing 138 kilometers or 148 kilometers if you’re not going to throw consistently?”
Im Chan-kyu continued, “(Yoo) Hee-kwan referred to his brother and said, ‘If you can throw a ball in the early 130s and late 120s to a left-handed hitter’s body, but you can’t throw a ball in the 138s and 141s, it’s because you’re not confident,'” he said, adding, “I think I felt a little bit after that. (Park) Dong-won’s brother also likes the body ball, so it worked well, and as I threw the body ball, my curve and changeup became more alive.”
Yoo Hee-kwan was a slow-ball pitcher in the KBO, but he won double-digit games in eight consecutive seasons and retired with 101 career wins. While fastballs are great, Yoo’s career proved what’s more important for a pitcher. That’s what Yoon tried to remind Im of.
Thanks to this, he also realized how to relax. Im, who had previously used a wind-up motion to throw harder and harder and was getting tired as the innings went on, started throwing from a set position at some point. “I don’t know why I did it,” he said, “but I think it had an effect on my physical strength because I was throwing with force. Now I don’t lose strength even when I go to the second half,” he confessed, adding, “Once, in the KIA game, I thought I would throw only 70%, but I still got 141 kilometers. It’s different since then.”
In addition to Yoo Hee-kwan, there were other pitchers who watched and learned. Lim Chan-kyu said, “Watching (the late) Young-pyo throwing cleanses my mind. For me, he’s the best pitcher.” “He throws so easily with just one changeup. I try to imitate and learn how he throws with his mindset and facial expressions.”
Ko’s average fastball velocity this season is 133.6 kilometers per hour. His velocity isn’t what you’d call submarine fast, but he’s utilized his changeup more than 70 percent of the time, which is a perfect mix of changeups and pitches. He leads the KT pitching staff with an 8-5 record and a 2.78 ERA.
When asked what makes Ko’s most powerful weapon, the changeup, work so well, Lim admires how “the pitching tunnel and mechanics are the same.” “The pitcher only throws the changeup, but the batter has a lot of thoughts and is confused. It’s fun to see that. You don’t know how much it’s going to read (if at all). Then you throw a fastball and it feels like 160 kilometers, and then you throw a curveball and they’re surprised and they’re out.”
Im, who also watches Major League Baseball (MLB) and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), is not a fan of fastball pitchers. “I like them, but I can’t imitate them. Sasaki’s (Chiba Lotte) 150-kilometer forkball is for eye-cleansing,” he says. “There are a lot of good pitchers in MLB, like Kyle Hendricks and Greg Maddux from the old days. If you look at the pitchers who are in the MLB Hall of Fame or who are doing well in Japan, they are not necessarily the ones with the fastest velocity. They have a medium velocity, but they have the best quality pitches.”
Peaking in his 11th season. “Baseball is fun and hard,” says Lim. I think it will continue to be hard until I retire. It’s hard when you’re playing, but when you look at it, including baseball in other leagues, it’s really fun and unknown.” “It’s hard, but it’s fun, and I want to challenge myself. It’s like I have an infinite amount of unrequited love to try to win my heart. I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I think it would be easier to win the heart of the opposite sex (laughs). I can’t have it.”토토사이트
That’s why he’s humbled by the season. He will be eligible for free agency at the end of the season, but Lim says, “I think I’ll work hard until the end of the season and then we’ll see. “I didn’t think about it until now,” he said, “and the moment I thought about it, I felt like I would go back to my old self. I did what I had in mind at the beginning of the camp, and that’s why I’ve come this far.”
He’s still working on his deficiencies. That’s why he gave himself a 50 in the first half. “I did better than I thought I would, better than the coach expected, and I didn’t get sick, but I didn’t fill in the things that I could have done better in the elements if I went into more detail. I think I could have gotten a 100 if I had done that,” he said.
He then set his sights on the second half of the game, where he wanted to work on his body work and be more aggressive with his strikes instead of just trying to get them after two strikes.
LG opened the second half with Casey Kelly and Adam Plutko for Lee Jeong-yong. The following week, Chan-Gyu Lim will start and finish. It’s a daunting schedule to start the second half, but Im is confident.
“I want to throw 100 pitches every day. My body is good.”