SSG Landers head coach Kim Won-hyung has come up with a solution to right-handed closer Seo Jin-yong’s struggles.
Seo Ji-yong shook his head in the last game against Jamsil Doosan on April 14. He couldn’t protect the win. It was his fourth blown save of the season.
He took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning with a 2-0 lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Yang Seok-hwan. He then walked Yang to load the bases. Lee induced a pitcher’s miscue to put runners on first and second. A wild pitch put runners on second and third. Kang Seung-ho followed with a grounder to third that scored Kim Tae-geun, making the score 1-2. With two outs, Kim In-tae walked to load the bases. Kim In-tae stole second and third, and Park Kye-beom was hit by an automatic high four. Another wild pitch. It was a 2-2 tie. Pinch-hitter Heo Kyung-min gave up the game-winning hit to complete the heartbreaking 2-3 loss.
Seo has been noticeably shaky in September. In five games and 5⅓ innings, he’s 2-1 with an 8.44 ERA and three blown saves. He was fine through mid-August. He was on a tear, recording 34 saves and not a single blown save.
His first blown save came on August 27 against Doosan. A single run in the ninth tied the game. SSG went on to win 8-5 in 10 extra innings, with Seo earning the win. However, he has continued to struggle since then.
Head coach Kim Won-hyung brought up Seo Jin-yong’s name on Saturday before the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against LG at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. “It’s possible, but it was a very big game for us as a team,” he said, referring to the game against Doosan on the 14th.
“Even if I got hit, I think it would have been better to face Kim In-tae on third base with two outs (in the ninth inning). “When you’re on the bench and there’s not a lot of talk, you have to go for it. But on the mound, the pitcher probably thought this guy was tough and made a tough pitch. A hit would have tied the game, and that would have been a big deal.”메이저놀이터
“On the flip side, if you think about it, if this guy walks and then steals second or third, you’ve got the tying run on second base, so the next guy is bigger. That’s true, but it’s better to face the guy at the plate when there’s only a tying run on base. That’s my biggest regret, because I should have made a difference there (against Kim In-tae).”
What is the problem with Seo’s slump? “He’s making a lot of mistakes, especially with his forkballs. Even when it’s a two-strike no-ball or a one-ball, he throws it in the middle and hits the batter. On the 14th, I threw a ball to the middle of the plate on a one-strike no-ball to Yang Seok-hwan.” He added, “I think it’s physically difficult, so I can’t ignore that part.” He explained, “In the past, even when I threw to the middle, I had power at the end of the ball, so I was hitting more misses than hits.”
He plans to help her get through crunch time better. “I think we need to be more active on the bench when we need to make a big play,” Kim said. I want to talk to the players strongly and create an atmosphere for the catchers and pitchers to be aggressive,” he said. “‘It’s okay. Don’t be afraid to go for it,” he said.