Expecting to compete for the No. 5 spot→Switching to the bullpen→First start in 1056 days…Given another chance in the playoffs, will the fifth-round pick crack the code this time?
It’s a starting job in the biggest game of the year.
KIA Tigers fifth-year left-hander Kim Ki-hoon (23) will make his first start of the season. KIA manager Kim Jong-kook will send Kim to the mound against the Lotte Giants on Thursday at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju. Kim has appeared in relief in all 28 games for the first team this season. His last start for the first team was on Oct. 23, 2020, against the LG Twins in Gwangju (2⅔ innings, one hit, three walks, three strikeouts, four runs, one earned run – loss). If he takes the mound against Lotte as scheduled, it will be his first start in 1056 days.
Expectations were high for Kim Ki-hoon, who completed his military service with the Sangsang last year. His struggling pitches improved significantly and he produced results in the Futures (second division) league. He was selected as a 2022 KBO Futures League All-Star and won the Most Valuable Pitcher award after pitching three scoreless innings with a fastball that reached a maximum velocity of 149 kilometers per hour. Expectations were even higher after his release from the military, when he posted a 1.04 ERA in five games and 8⅔ innings for the first team. In this year’s spring training, KIA considered Kim Ki-hoon as one of the five starting pitchers along with Yoon Young-chul (19) and Lim Ki-young (30).
Maybe it was the pressure. Kim didn’t show much power in the exhibition games. In the end, Yoon won the battle for the fifth spot, and Kim started the regular season in the bullpen.After 28 games and 31⅓ innings pitched this season, Kim is 2-0 with a 3.45 ERA. While he hasn’t given up a home run, he has walked 34 batters while striking out 26, and his WHIP (walks allowed per inning) is a respectable 1.95. He was unable to find an answer to the problem of pitching anxiety.
While Sanchez is still recovering from his injury, KIA also lost Lee Yi-ri, who returned from shoulder inflammation, to a blister that forced a rotation change. After using alternate starters Hwang Dong-ha (20) and Kim Gun-kook (35) for four straight games, including a doubleheader against LG in Gwangju on Aug. 8-10, KIA opted to give Kim a chance.
Kim said, “Kim Ki-hoon has been pitching in the Future Team. He was also a starter in the commercial team. We thought we should give him more of a chance to start rather than the bullpen,” said Kim. “At this point, we want to give him one more chance because he has starting experience.” “His performance in the Futures was good, but the first team is a different stage,” he said. “I don’t expect much from him right now, but I want him to pitch as many innings as possible at 60-70 pitches like Hwang Dong-ha and Kim Gun-guk. If I get good pitches, I can go a little longer,” he added.스포츠토토
Kim Ki-hoon wore a KIA uniform as the first pick in the 2019 rookie draft. He was recognized for his talent at Gwangju Dongseong High School, where he joined the youth national team and started against Korea and Japan. Now in his fifth year as a professional, it was time to showcase his talent. It will be interesting to see if his chances at the most crucial moments will be the key to his rebound.