Lee Eui-ri (22) looked back on the season at the end of last year. I looked into the records calmly. It wasn’t just a season where I was bad at it. The season passed without much effort, but when I looked back after taking a breath, I was able to think about something different.
Lee had a very strange season last year. He often played unstable games as if running a tightrope, but won a lot and posted a good record. He played 28 games and recorded 11 wins, seven losses and an ERA of 3.96. He had double-digit wins for two consecutive years, and was the only 10-win pitcher for Kia last year. He also had 93 walks. He also had 156 strikeouts among pitchers in the league. He was the fifth highest in the entire league.
At the Gwangju-Kia Champions Field a few days before leaving for the spring camp for Australia, Lee revealed his new mindset after reflecting on himself last year at the starting point of the 2024 season. Lee said he will make this year the starting point for his three goals of running with greater confidence.
Lee Eui-ri said, “After last season, I saw that I was throwing pretty well except for giving a lot of walks. But I didn’t think about that at all and just thought I was so bad and embarrassed. Even if my control got a little bad, I was throwing it normally, but I think I paid too much attention to that control.”
Lee Eui-ri was able to organize her thoughts again by talking with new pitching coaches Jung Jae-hoon and Lee Dong-geol while checking and training more systematically at the Seattle Drive-Line Baseball Center with Jung Hae-young and Yoon Young-chul in December.
Lee Eui-ri is a pitcher whose strong fastball is his great strength. “Coach said, ‘You are a really easy style to play baseball. That’s why it’s hard to improve if you do it that way.’ I don’t want to either. Rather than continuously throwing good balls and playing baseball, I want to try various pitching patterns,” Lee said.
That’s why Lee’s keyword this year is “command.” “If a player’s ball control is to score strikes well, then a command is to be able to throw balls where I want to be formed even if the ball is formed. After last season, I think command is really important,” Lee said. “The coach said, ‘You have to make the batter feel like a new pitcher.’ To do that, I have to throw with my own conviction, but I also thought that I paid too much attention to what people around me say. I threw several fastballs and breaking balls, but I kept paying attention to things like, ‘Oh, just throw fastballs’ when the ball hit me. Now I’m going to have my own conviction.”
So Lee is trying to strengthen her conviction and persuasion by banking on her skills this year. “If I want to say this to the senior catcher, I have to be good at it. I will be able to shake my head (at the catcher’s sign) only when my words are persuasive. To do that, I have to be confident and show the results,” Lee said.
So the goal set is “6 innings on average.” 꽁머니
For three years since his debut, Lee has filled one prescribed inning (154 innings in 2022). He pitched only 131.2 innings in 28 games last season. He failed to throw an average of five innings. Although he did not lose a lot of runs in innings due to strikeouts, many games failed to prolong innings as his ball control was shaky in certain innings, resulting in an increase in walks and runners on base. This is also why he expressed concern over his good performance.
“If I want to say that I did a great job this year, I think I have to throw at least six innings on average. That’s why I have to be a pitcher who wins against the opponent in a big match, or a pitcher who guarantees the team’s one win if I leave the game. Last year, there was only one thing that I was satisfied with. When I left the Major League, my team’s winning rate was not bad,” Lee said. “These days, fewer starting pitchers are throwing a lot in the Major League, which is why I rather want to be a pitcher who throws a lot. I want to make this season a season where I can become a pitcher like that.”