The return of left-handed pitcher Lee Sang-young, 23, is a “crisis” for the LG Twins.
Lee was discharged from the military on Dec. 12. The return of Lee, who served in the military with the Sangmu Baseball Team (Armed Forces Sports Organization), is one of the good news LG has been waiting for. Since the beginning of the season, LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop has been talking about the possibility of Lee’s return to the first team. With his experience in the starting rotation for the Commerce Baseball Organization, he is considered an immediate force to be reckoned with.
A graduate of Busan High School, Lee was selected with the fifth overall pick in the second round of the 2019 KBO Draft. In 2021, he appeared in 21 games (nine starts) and totaled 50 innings in the bullpen. Despite not being able to establish himself in the first team, he has improved his skills with the Commerce Baseball Organization. After winning 10 games (3 losses) in the second team last year, he led the second team in wins (8) this season before being called up. Excluding one game where he gave up a lot of runs (six against the Doosan Bears on May 4), his ERA in the second team dropped from 2.63 to 1.76.
The difference in league level between the first and second teams is huge. There are many players who struggle in the first team even if they do well in the second team. However, LG doesn’t expect Lee to have too many ups and downs. He has been consistent in the second team, pitching at least five innings in all nine games. “I hope he can establish himself as a fourth starter,” Yoon Kyung-yeop said of Lee Sang-young. It’s an indication of the team’s expectations. That’s why the team has scheduled a comeback game against the Samsung Lions in Jamsil on the 14th, two days after his release.
Lee’s arrival coincides with the departure of Kim Yun-sik. Kim Yun-sik, who was one of the three opening day selections, was dropped from the first team roster on the 9th. This was due to his poor performance against the Kiwoom Heroes on August 8, when he gave up seven runs on 12 hits in five innings. It was the first time he allowed 12 hits in a game since his 2020 debut. The seven earned runs were also a career-high.
Kim Yun-sik, a member of the 2023 안전놀이터 World Baseball Classic (WBC) team, has struggled all season. His form has been erratic, with a 5.29 ERA in 11 appearances. The solidity that helped him win eight games last year and earn a spot in the three-man rotation is nowhere to be seen. At first, it seemed like time would fix it. The team’s preparation for the season was hampered by their focus on the WBC.
In early May, coach Yoon Kyung-yeop said, “Looking at Yoon Sik’s physical condition, he has the body to start the season (now). I think the month of April is the time to start the season if he has made up for the number of pitches he couldn’t make in the WBC,” he encouraged. However, he was unable to produce a satisfactory report card afterward.
Kim Yun-sik had already lost the third spot to Im Chan-kyu. With fellow left-handed pitcher Lee Sang-young as the fourth starter, the space will be even tighter. Yoon-sik Kim’s rebound point, according to coach Yoon Kyung-yup, is his fastball. It’s up to him to prove his competitiveness.