‘Homegrown selection’ Chung Chan-heon + Jang Jae-young… Head coach Hong Won-ki was pleased with their performance

The driving force behind the Kiwoom Heroes is the mound. Since the beginning of the season, they’ve done their job in both the starting and bullpen roles, through big and small variables.

The homegrown starters, who may not be ‘ace’ pitchers, but have fulfilled their manager’s expectations, have also contributed a lot to the team. This includes Chung Chan-heon, who has been in the starting rotation since May, and Jang Jae-young, who earned his first win in seven games this season.

After becoming a free agent last year, Chung was unable to get his stamp on the team until March 27, less than a week before the start of the season, when he signed a two-year, $860 million contract with Kiwoom. With so many twists and turns, Chung needed time to prepare.

As April rolled around, he went into “game mode,” playing two games in the Futures League to get a feel for the game and was promoted to the first team on April 29. Since then, he’s been a force for the team as he’s secured a spot in the starting lineup, ending the first half of the season on April 9 against the Jamsil Doosan Bears. Jung’s record this season is 2-5 with a 3.94 ERA in 11 games and 59⅓ innings pitched.

When asked about Chung’s first half of the season, Kiwoom manager Hong Won-ki said, “We didn’t win a lot of games because we didn’t get help from the bullpen, but I think he did more than 100 percent, 120 percent of his job, even though he joined the team late and under difficult preparation conditions during the winter.”

In particular, with seven games of six innings or more out of 11, Chung has proven that he has no problem going the distance, not only with his basic pitches and delivery, but also with his innings.

Another homegrown starter, Jang Jae-young, has also shown improvement. Not only did he take the losses in both of his April games, but he also walked five batters in both of them, indicating that his pitches weren’t quite right. However, having over a month to regroup did Jang a lot of good, and as of last month, he’s been given the opportunity to start with the first team again.

The noticeable reduction in strikeouts was encouraging, but innings digestion was an issue. On June 4 against the Incheon SSG Landers (3 innings), June 11 against the Suwon KT (3 innings), and June 17 against the Daejeon Hanwha Eagles (3⅓ innings), he didn’t go more than four innings.안전놀이터

Then, on June 23, Jang Jae-young went five innings for the first time in his professional career at home against the Doosan Bears. His performance was solid, with four hits, two walks, two strikeouts, and one earned run. Although he didn’t get the win, it was a confidence booster, and he finally got the win on July 5 against the NC Dinos of Gochuk, pitching 5⅓ innings, giving up two runs on four hits and striking out seven. It was his first win in 40 games, including 19 in 2021 and 14 in 2022.

The manager also recognized Jang’s improvement. “I think he’s improved a lot in terms of numbers and confidence, and I think he’s improved a lot,” said Hong Won-ki.

After showing promise in the first half of the year, Jang was kept in the bullpen until the All-Star break, and on the 11th, he fulfilled his role by pitching one hitless inning and striking out one in relief against KT.

Manager Hong Won-ki said, “I’m planning to prepare for the rest of the games in the bullpen, which is close to the must-win group. Depending on the type of pitcher, it’s okay to be behind the starter, and it may change slightly depending on the flow of the starter, but we are planning to be behind the starter.”

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