KIA Tigers manager Kim Jong-kook describes rookie pitcher Yoon Young-chul (19) this way.
Yoon Young-chul’s pitching is such that the label “rookie” seems awkward. Since his professional debut on April 15, when he gave up five runs in 3⅔ innings against Gochuk Kiwoom, he has been improving day by day. In the month of May, he went five innings or more and allowed three earned runs or less in all five appearances. In eight games and 39⅔ innings, he has a 3-1 record with a 2.95 안전놀이터 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. His fastball sits in the mid-90s and is far from a lightning fastball, but he has excellent command and boldness, pounding all corners of the strike zone. “I put him on the mound with the idea that he just needs to pitch five innings and three runs or less, and he’s living up to the team’s expectations,” Kim said, “and now he’s showing that he’s somewhat calculated when he’s on the mound.”
Yoon met with SSG Landers foreign pitcher Roenis Elias (35) at Gwangju Kia Champions Field on June 6. Elias, who joined the team as a replacement for Enri Romero, has pitched more than five innings and allowed three earned runs or less in both KBO games. His seven-inning, three-run Quality Start Plus (QS+) performance against Samsung on May 31 was enough to turn the team’s question marks into exclamation points. “I pitched more than five innings in both games, and I had the right pitch count,” said SSG coach Kim Won-hyung. I feel like I’m adapting well,” he said, adding, “I was satisfied with the way I pitched in the previous games.”
Both pitchers pitched more than five innings in this game, which is what the team wanted. However, the results were mixed.
Yoon couldn’t get over the hump in the first inning. In the top of the first inning, he gave up back-to-back singles to Park Sung-chung and Choi Jeong, then walked Guillermo Heredia to load the bases, but center fielder Socrates Brito couldn’t catch Ha Jae-hoon’s fly ball, resulting in two runs. Yoon managed his pitch count well on the day, pitching a career-high seven innings (seven innings, five hits, one walk, two strikeouts) and earning his first QS+, but fell short of the win requirement.
Elias gave up one run in the bottom of the fourth inning when a high, body-course 135-kilometer changeup to the KIA leadoff hitter was caught in the batting order and led to a home run, but he pitched through the sixth inning without allowing another run. He looked shaky in the bottom of the seventh, giving up back-to-back singles after being tested for a foreign object in his glove at the request of the KIA bench, but Geary roared out of the inning without allowing a run. Both pitchers pitched according to their team’s calculations, but with different results.