This could be the first 50-save game in history. The pace is off the charts.
SSG Landers’ Seo Jin-yong picked up his 17th save of the season on April 24 against the Incheon LG Twins. It was his first save in four games. Taking the mound in the top of the ninth inning with SSG leading 5-3, Seo gave up a leadoff single to Austin Dean, but struck out Oh Ji-hwan and Moon Bo-kyung. With two outs, he gave up an unfortunate hit to Jung Ju-hyun. The bases were loaded, but Seo got Hong Chang-ki to ground out to first base on a wild pitch to end the game.
It was the 17th save for the pitcher who currently leads the league in saves. He is seven saves ahead of the Lotte Giants’ Kim Won-joong and the Doosan Bears’ Hong Gun-hee, who are tied for second in saves.
Seo has been in great shape this season. He has gotten faster and stronger than in previous years, which has created the conditions for him to pick up his pitching pace quickly. The coaching staff also praised him, saying, “He’s done a great job preparing this year.”
Last year, he was called a “slow starter” because he didn’t start to improve his velocity or delivery until May, but this year, his velocity came back in the exhibition games. Kim Won-hyung went through the camp without nailing down a closer this season, but Seo Jin-yong was so dominant in the competition that he had no choice but to leave the closer in charge.
More than a career high, it’s a season of epic proportions. Seo had an 11-game save streak from April 20 against the KT Wiz to May 13 against the Hanwha Eagles. His streak was broken on April 21 when he allowed one run (one earned) against Lotte, but he bounced back with an unflappable first inning against LG in his first appearance since then.
What’s remarkable is the pace of his saves. SSG has played 43 games through 24 days. They won 27 of them, with 17 of those saves coming from Seo Jin-yong.
Saves are not the work of the closer alone. The team needs to win, and save situations need to be created frequently, and this season, SSG and Seo have continued to fulfill all of those requirements, virtually sharing the saves.
SSG has 19 team saves this season, the most among the 10 clubs. They have 48 save opportunities, third behind LG (56) and Lotte (52), but the most saves also means they have a solid bullpen that hasn’t allowed a late inning comeback. Between Seo Jin-yong, Noh Kyung-eun, Ko Hyo-joon, Choi Min-joon, and Baek Seung-gun, SSG has allowed just six late-game losses this season, the fewest among the 10 clubs. The team is 20-1 in games leading into the seventh inning.안전놀이터
The question is, how long can this save momentum continue? If you do the math on the number of games SSG has played so far and Seo’s save percentage, it’s possible for him to make at least 50 saves this season. Of course, it won’t be easy, but if he manages to do it, he will surpass Oh Seung-hwan’s record of 47 saves in a season (2006, 2011).
The best team and the best closer. Can Seo Jin-yong complete his great challenge this season?