In a month that collapsed under the pressure of ‘ERA 1.48→8.22’, the national ace has grown again

Kwak Bin (25, Doosan Bears), the national ace who had a terrible month, has grown one more step.

Kwak Bin is a seven-year professional right-hander who joined Doosan in 2018 as the first designation for the KBO rookie draft after graduating from Hakdong Elementary School, Yangyang Middle School and Bae Myung High School in Seoul. He gradually stood out with a fast ball of up to 155 kilometers per hour and was reborn as the next-generation right-hander ace for the national team by wearing the national flag three times last year alone.고수익알바

He had a record-breaking month in May. With four wins and no losses in five games and a 1.48 ERA and 29 strikeouts in 30 ⅓ innings, he led Doosan to the No. 1 ranking (16 wins, two draws, eight losses, 0.667 ERA) in May. In recognition of his performance, he won the KBO monthly MVP award for the first time in two years since Ariel Miranda in October 2021, and the first time in eight years since Yoo Hee-kwan in July 2016.

Since then, June has been a challenging month. He allowed six runs in a row against the Hanwha Eagles and the Kiwoom Heroes, which sharply collapsed with an 8.22 ERA in three consecutive games. “In fact, I was exhausted physically and mentally,” Kwak said after the match against the SSG in Jamsil on Friday. “I felt pressured to do something in the team. I felt that I should definitely get fired up,” he recalled.

“I wasn’t confident even if I threw the ball because it kept getting worse. I thought I would keep getting hits and I wouldn’t be able to press the opponent with my ball power. So I told the coach, and he said it would be better to rest now for the second half, so I agreed and rested,” he added.

Doosan is having difficulty in running its starting rotation this year as foreigners Raul Alcantara and Brandon Waddell were shaken up due to injury and sluggishness. Notably, the month of June was so severe that he ranked last in the league with a 6.39 ERA before Kwak took the mound on June 28. With the situation shaking back and forth, Kwak became unwittingly tired and lost a lot of weight. This is why he ate four meals a day during the 10-day break.

Kwak said, “I didn’t know, but I lost 6 kilograms compared to the spring camp. It’s the first time I lost this much weight. So I ate a lot to meet my goal again during the break. I always eat meat. I don’t usually eat late-night snacks during the season, but this time I even ate late-night snacks in the morning, lunch and dinner. I think I recovered my weight to the right level.”

He also kept his mental management in mind. The advice of two veteran pitching coaches, Kwon Myung-chul (55) and Kim Sang-jin (54), gave a big boost. Kwak Bin said, “I had a psychology teacher coming to Icheon (where the Futures Team is located), and I talked to him and they gave me good words. Rather than saying anything in particular, I had a lot of thoughts on my job, but it was nice that it disappeared a lot while I was talking to them.”

The ace, who has gained weight and regained mental health, secured an important game with SSG by banking on his overwhelming pitching capability. At a match against SSG in Jamsil on Friday, Kwak garnered his sixth win (six losses) in this season by allowing no run and three hits, no outs, and five strikeouts in six innings.

He overwhelmed the SSG lineup by pitching perfectly until the fourth inning with a fast ball of up to 155 kilometers per hour, and until the sixth inning, he pitched only 82 pitches (37 fastballs, 18 sliders, 14 changeups, and 13 curves). He did not play a long inning due to blisters due to a large score difference, but he led Doosan to a 10-0 victory with stable pitching.

Kwak said, “This is my personal opinion, but when I lose weight, I think my ball power dies. That’s why I always gain weight even if I exceed (the target weight). I definitely gained more strength this time than before the break.” He added, “First of all, there is a height that I prefer, and it was good because the ball went well to that height.”

Despite having a lot of experience in international competitions, Kwak Bin is still a 25-year-old young pitcher. Being young means that there is still more room to fill in. The past two months, which were like roller coasters, have been another opportunity for him to grow.

Lee Seung-yeop, the national hitter, also gave strength to the ace pitcher. “It’s been a while since I had a clean game. I had a comfortable game after a long time because Kwak Bin had a stable six innings. I felt strong in the ball, and I think 10 days of rest gave me a boost,” Lee said.

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