The “#1 Rookie of the Year” was showing signs of faltering. They even thought about giving the inexperienced young pitcher a break, but it was a mistake.
Doosan Bears’ Kim Dong-ju (21) threw 92 pitches over five innings, allowing four hits, one walk, and striking out five in a no-hitter in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against the Samsung Lions at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Thursday.
While he didn’t fulfill the requirements for the pitcher’s silent victory, he lowered his ERA from 2.08 to 1.82. That’s behind teammate Raul Alcantara (1.29) and NC Dinos Eric Peddy (1.63). The scary rookie’s performance has put a smile on coach Lee Seung-yeop’s face.
Kim Dong-ju, who was drafted by Doosan in the second round of the 2021 draft out of Sunlin Internet High School, failed to make much of an impression last season, going winless in 10 rookie games and posting a 7.56 ERA. Before the season, he was just another pitcher with a lot of potential, but once the lid was lifted, he exceeded expectations.
He made the opening day roster and kept his spot in the starting rotation even after Dylan Pyle returned. In seven games, he had three quality starts (six or more innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed), including a career-high seven scoreless innings against the KIA Tigers on April 12. The 6-foot-3, 190-centimeter right-hander dominated opposing hitters with his hard-hitting fastball and sharp forkball and slider.
However, Lee’s last start on April 18, when he gave up three runs on six hits in 3⅓ innings against the Kiwoom Heroes, was a concern for manager Lee Seung-yeop. He didn’t want to overwork his pitcher, who was in his first full-time season 메이저놀이터.
It was good to see Jang Won-jun rebound on the 23rd to get his first win in five years. “Kim Dong-ju is playing his first full-time season,” said Lee before the game. “Today, if I think Kim Dong-ju has lost a lot of strength, I’ll give him a break and put Jang Won-jun in his place. If Kim Dong-ju pitches well, we can drop Jang Won-jun and bring him up if we have a problem with the starting lineup again.”
Contrary to fears, Kim didn’t collapse. He pitched a scoreless inning with five strikeouts and no walks. He threw 45 pitches, nearly half of them fastballs. His fastball topped out at 147 mph. He threw 30 sliders with big trajectories, 16 splitters that came in like a fastball and dropped quickly, and just one curveball. He was also able to get runners out of trouble with his sharp throwing arm.
All three pitches were effective, as he struck out two with his fastball, two with his splitter, and two with his slider. He only walked one and struck out four, but his pitch count increased as he made it a bit more difficult for himself.
Naturally, Jang Won-jun’s chance to return to the mound will be delayed. National team pitcher Kwak Bin is also out with an injury, but he has completed a final checkup in the Futures League and is expected to pitch against SSG Landers on the 28th. Choi Seung-yong will start for Samsung on the 25th, and Raul Alcantara and Choi Won-joon for SSG on the 26th and 27th.
Doosan ranks seventh with a team ERA of 3.94, but when you narrow it down to starters, it’s 3.32, just behind the LG Twins (3.31). It’s hard to say exactly when Dillon will return, but they already have a solid starting rotation and a backup No. 1 starter in Jang Won-jun. Despite the loss in the eighth inning due to a bullpen meltdown, Kim Dong-ju’s better-than-expected performance should give manager Lee Seung-yeop a lot of confidence.