25 August 2023

Kia’s Yang Hyun-jong returns, but could the break have weakened him?

By pestfood.com

KIA Tigers left-handed ace Yang Hyun-jong (35) is returning from a short break.

Yang is scheduled to start against the Hanwha Eagles on April 26 at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field.

This will be Yang’s first start in 11 days since he was removed from the first-team roster on April 16 against the Gwangju Kiwoom Heroes.

Yang had been pitching steadily until May.

In four starts in April, he went 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA, and in May, he went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in four starts. In a May 9 start against SSG Landers left-handed ace Kim Kwang-hyun, he pitched eight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts.

But in June, he faltered.

In his first start of June, he gave up nine runs in two innings against the Sasik Lotte Giants on June 2. It was his most runs allowed in a single game. In his next start, on June 7 against the Gwangju SSG, he gave up seven runs in 4⅓ innings.

After seemingly stabilizing for a while, Yang fell into a deeper slump in the second half.

In his three second-half starts, Yang went winless, lost two games, and posted a 7.71 ERA. His batting average in the second half reached .318.

After giving up four runs in 5⅔ innings against the Changwon NC Dinos on July 27, his first start of the second half, Yang also pitched poorly against the Pohang Samsung Lions on July 2, giving up three runs in five innings.

Against the LG Twins on the 8th, he gave up a whopping eight runs (six earned) on nine hits and one walk through two innings. He gave up five runs in the first inning and three runs in the second inning as his command dropped. Luckily for Yang, the game was called a no-game due to rain.

Yang looked to rebound against the bottom-ranked Kiwoom on June 15, but was saddled with seven runs in 5⅔ innings.

After failing to record a quality start (six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs) since June 24 against the Gwangju KT Wiz (six innings, one run, no walks), Yang’s win clock stopped on July 6 against the Incheon SSG.

With 162 of his 164 career wins coming in starts, Yang could tie Song Jin-woo’s KBO record for most starts (163) with one more win, but he kept putting it off.

KIA decided that Yang’s slump was the result of a decline in his physical fitness and gave him a break by removing him from the first team roster on April 16. It was the first time since September 2019 that Yang Hyun-jong had not been on the first team roster in nearly four years.

Without accompanying the first team, Yang Hyun-jong worked on his readjustment at Hampyeong, the second team’s stadium, and will be back in action after 10 days.

Yang hasn’t fared too badly against Hanwha this year. He faced Hanwha in his first start of the season on April 11 and did his job, allowing three runs on seven hits (one home run) with five strikeouts and one walk in seven innings.

Sixth-place KIA is only 1.5 games back of the fifth-place Doosan Bears, and only two games behind fourth-place NC, so it’s certainly within reach of a postseason berth.스포츠토토

For KIA to survive in the tight race, the team will need a resurgent Yang Hyun-jong.

While Thomas Pannoni, who joined the team as a replacement pitcher, has been pitching well, if Yang returns to his early-season form, the team will have a solid one-two punch to push for a top-five finish.