“Among Korean side-arm pitchers, it would be difficult (to name Choi Won-jun next) except for Ko Young-pyo, because he has a very good circle changeup.”
For Doosan Bears pitching coach Kwon Myung-cheol, the most frustrating thing about Choi Won-jun, 29, who has struggled this season, is that he doesn’t believe in himself. In Kwon’s opinion, there is no other sidearm in Korea right now that is better than Choi’s, except for Ko Young-pyo (31, KT Wiz). It was frustrating for him as a coach to see a pitcher with such outstanding skills get hit by a run because he didn’t trust his pitches.
In 15 games this year, Choi went 2-8 with a 5.45 ERA in 77⅔ innings pitched. This is his highest ERA since 2019, when he started to establish himself in the first team. Won-Joon Choi’s best and worst days have come when he hasn’t received run support. Won-jun Choi’s run support per game this season is just 1.20. When he thinks to himself, “If I give up a run, I lose,” he can’t help but pitch under more pressure.
It’s not just a matter of relief. Choi took over a month off, including the All-Star break, before pitching against the Jamsil Lotte Giants on July 27. His fastball was up to 143 mph and averaging 140 mph, which wasn’t much different from his usual delivery. The problem was his changeup. With his changeup and curve barely working, he was left with two fastballs and a slider.
“I didn’t go to spring training with him, so I don’t know his preparation, but it’s the same from the beginning to now: fastball and slider. I don’t have a changeup, so I think I wasn’t ready for the changeup. At the beginning, I had a good end of the ball, but I think the reason why my performance is getting worse is that my pitches are not good,” he soberly evaluated.
“Yesterday (Nov. 27 against Lotte), the ball was good, but when the bases were loaded, I ran around too much to avoid getting hit. It’s because of the pressure of losing if I give up a run, and it’s always been like that since April. Even though it was good, the bats didn’t hit and we didn’t get the win. Starting pitchers get anxious when they don’t win. There’s still that pressure, ‘If I pitch, we’re going to lose,'” he added.
In the end, you have to believe in yourself. 메이저놀이터 “You have to be confident on the mound,” Kwon said. (Choi) has a good end of the ball. He really put in a lot of effort. He shadow pitched every day. Once you’re confident on the mound, even if you get hit, you have to go long innings with no runners on base. Last year, when he won eight games, he was able to keep going and not fall apart in one inning. But this year, it hasn’t worked out so well, so I’m worried about him,” he said, adding that he hopes he can find a breakthrough soon.
For now, Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop plans to give Choi another chance. Choi will be in the starting rotation for one game of a three-game midweek series against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon from March 1-3.
“My pitches were fine, but I struggled with a lot of pitches I wasn’t confident in,” Lee said, reflecting on his last outing, “so I’ll just go out there and pitch the next one. It’s too early to make changes (to the starting lineup) after one game in the second half.”
But you can also give them unlimited chances