Will Jung Hae-young (22, KIA) return as a closer?
Jeong joined the first-team squad before the game against Jamsil LG on the 1st, and on the 2nd, he successfully reported to the first team with one scoreless inning. Manager Kim Jong-guk said he doesn’t plan to use Jung as a closer right away. Currently, KIA’s back door is a double-stopper system of Choi Ji-min and Lim Ki-young.
They are backed up by Jeon Sang-hyun, Jang Hyun-sik, and Lee Jun-young, meaning that KIA’s succession plan is pretty solid. There’s no reason for Jeong to be thrust into a demanding role right away. Kim will give him a chance to get a feel for the first team first, and then give him a role based on his performance and conditioning.
In 21 games this season, Jung has a 3-1 record with six saves and a 3.26 ERA, which is not bad. However, he hasn’t looked like himself in terms of velocity, changeup, or anything else. His fastball averaged 141.4 mph this season, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
In 2022, it was 144.6 kilometers, a whopping 3.2 kilometers less. That’s why his fastball was rated as unimpressive. Jeong is a pitcher who maximizes the benefits of rotation and vertical movement, not velocity. However, when your velocity is basically too low, there are limits.
In the Futures League, he had a shaky start, going 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in six games, but he was fine in his last two outings, and it seems like he couldn’t stay in the second team forever. In any case, he should be a key part of the bullpen in the first team. McCann made some adjustments in the Futures League. In his comeback game on the 2nd, he threw some hard pitches. He threw a 147 mph fastball to the leadoff hitter, Shin Min-jae, and then mixed in a slider and splitter to get through the first inning. He threw a lot of pitches above 145 mph.
Jung’s return to form is a huge benefit to the KIA bullpen. The bullpen is currently a bit tired. The bullpen’s workload has increased as the starters’ innings have dropped off since June for one reason or another. With temperatures rising, it’s important to keep them healthy.
In the right-handed bullpen, Jang Hyun-sik’s poor form has been a concern for manager Kim Jong-kook. Im Ki-young is performing better than expected, but is sidelined. Jeon Sang-hyun is in the mix, but there aren’t many right-handed bullpen options that can get the job done in the middle innings, and that’s not a good thing. 메이저놀이터 Even if Jeong can’t return to the closer’s role right away, he could be a great addition to the KIA bullpen if he can get the job done when it counts.
While Jeong is perceived as a closer, in 2020, his rookie season, he was actually a flow guy in front of Park Ji-won. As long as Lim and Choi continue to perform at a high level, there’s no reason for KIA to adjust the details of their roles. If either of them falter, they can move Jung Hae-young to the back. For KIA, Jung’s performance is quite important.
After all, 30 saves in three consecutive years has become a virtual impossibility. After 34 saves in 2021, 32 saves in 2022, and six saves this season. It’s really hard to get between 3 and 40 saves consistently. The year 2023 could be a big learning experience for Jung.