KIA Tigers left-handed ace Yang Hyun-jong has finally been removed from the first team roster.
KIA demoted Yang to the second team along with Kim Ki-hoon ahead of the team’s home game against the Kiwoom Heroes at Gwangju-KIA Champions Field on Saturday. Called up to fill their spots were Kim Jae-yeol and Park Jun-pyo.
Yang Hyeon-jong is the most notable name, as he started against Kiwoom on the 15th and gave up seven runs on six hits (one home run) and four walks in 5⅔ innings while striking out five to suffer his seventh loss of the season. In the top of the fourth inning, when the score was tied at 0-0, Kim Jun-wan singled and was followed by a walk to Kim Hye-sung. Yang’s ERA rose from 4.01 to 4.39 as a result of the blown save.
Including this game, Yang’s record this season is 5-7 with a 4.39 ERA in 19 games and 106⅔ innings pitched.
In fact, at the beginning of the season, it wasn’t expected to be a problem. Yang appeared in eight games in the first two months of the season, including five games of six innings or more. He even threw eight innings against the Gwangju SSG Landers on May 9.
But it was in June that he showed signs of uneasiness. On June 2 against the Busan Lotte Giants and June 7 against the Gwangju SSG Landers, Yang gave up nine runs in 2 innings and seven runs in 4⅓ innings, respectively. The runs were earned, but he was pulled from the game after less than five innings, prompting an “emergency” on the KIA mound.
After failing to secure a win in his next two outings, Yang seemed to rebound on June 24 against the KT Wiz in Gwangju (six innings, one run, no decision), but he hasn’t completed six innings in his last six games, including one against the LG Twins in Jamsil on June 30. After posting double-digit quality starts in every season from 2015 through last year, Yang has just six quality starts this season.
While there is a lot of speculation about Yang’s struggles, most agree that he has pitched so many innings that his body is taking a toll. After debuting in the first team in 2007, he took on a full-time starting role in 2009 and has been one of the league’s leading innings-eaters, throwing more than 100 innings every season except 2012. Most notably, from 2014 to last year, he went 170 innings without missing a season, all while posting double-digit wins.
Even last year, his first season back in Korea, Yang was one of the key contributors to the team’s postseason run, going 12-7 with a 3.85 ERA in 30 games and 175 innings pitched. It would be a lie to say that he hasn’t quite reached the heights of his prime, but the fact that he’s still able to pitch so many innings is a huge plus for the team.
But now it’s a different story. It’s not easy to get through five innings, and given his age, it’s unrealistic to expect the same performance from him. Eventually, KIA decided it was better to give Yang a breather than to keep him in the rotation and made a change to the first team roster.
Yang Hyun-jong will return to the first team after 10 days on the disabled list, and no pitcher has been named to fill his spot. It’s possible that KIA could use a “bullpen day” on the mound when Yang is in the rotation. With a five-way battle on their hands, KIA can only hope that their ace can recover well and make a successful return.메이저놀이터
Meanwhile, Kia’s foreign pitcher Ariel Furado was removed from the roster today to rest, and reliever Ha Young-min was called up to the first team. The SSG Landers added infielder Kim Chan-hyung to the roster and removed Ahn Sang-hyun from the roster, citing a finger injury. SSG manager Kim Won-hyung said, “Ahn Sang-hyun was hit on the right finger when an irregular bound occurred while receiving a fungo, and the examination showed that it was fractured. The fracture is not severe, but (the injured part) is his thumb, so it seems that he will have pain when holding the ball, throwing it, or hitting it,” he sighed.