As KIA Tigers pitcher Lim Ki-young, 30, enters his 12th year as a professional, it’s hard to put a finger on his identity as a pitcher.
While it’s clear that he’s had more experience as a starter, having started 122 of his 226 career games, he hasn’t had a distinct career as a starter.
After joining Hanwha in 2012, Lim Ki-young donned a KIA uniform as compensation for Song Eun-beom (now LG), and upon his return from military service in 2017, he was a revelation, going 8-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 23 games and two shutouts to lead KIA to the integrated championship.
But that was the best season of Lim’s career. He never had a 10-win season (his most was 9), and he never pitched a complete game. He never really established himself as a starter. He never made it beyond the fifth starter’s role.
This year, Lim was again competing for a spot in the starting rotation. He was expected to be the last man standing. However, as rookie Yoon Young-chul excelled in spring training and exhibition games, the team strategically planned to develop him into the starting lineup. Im Ki-young was pushed out of the starting lineup and eventually moved to the bullpen.
His first position was long relief. His first assignment was in long relief. It’s a position that goes unnoticed and unnoticed, but it’s the one that has to suffer the most and be responsible for the game. However, Lim Ki-young made his presence felt by pitching in this unglamorous position.
Lim was often used as the second pitcher after the starter was dropped. As early as the fourth inning, however, he was able to get out of inning after inning by aggressively battling hitters in any situation, which led to the game being tied and turned around. With Jung Hae-young struggling, Jang Hyun-sik, Jeon Sang-hyun, and Park Joon-pyo, who were supposed to be the closer, faltering, he took on the role of the closer, pitching short innings. He has established himself as an ironclad multi-inning closer and is considered one of KIA’s “godsends” this year.
In 42 games this year, Lim has a record of 2-1, 2 saves, 11 holds, and a 2.35 ERA. He hasn’t pitched many games, but he has worked 61⅓ innings. That’s the most of any current bullpen pitcher. He’s gone multiple innings in 22 of his 42 games, more than half of his starts. In many cases, he’s gone as long as four innings.
Against Sajik Lotte on April 12, he served as both a long reliever and a closer. In the fifth inning, trailing 8-1 to 8-5, starter Yoon Young-cheol was unable to get a single out and had to be pulled after failing to fulfill the winning pitcher requirement. The choice of the KIA bench was, unsurprisingly, Lim Ki-young. It was his first start in eight days since his last appearance against Hanwha on April 4. Lim came in with the bases loaded in the fifth inning and got Jung-hoon to fly out to center field on two pitches to put out the fire.
He then struck out the next three batters – Gudrum, Kim Min-seok, and Noh Jin-hyuk – with swinging strikes to stabilize the game in the sixth. He came back in the seventh and struck out pinch-hitters Go Seung-min, Ahn Kwon-soo, and Ahn Chi-hong. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He threw 27 pitches.
After Lim came on, the game settled down and the offense exploded once again to complete the 13-5 victory. Lim picked up his second win of the season.
After the game, Lim said, “It was my first start in a week and I was well-rested, so my fastball had good power, so I pitched aggressively. “The score was getting closer and closer, and the defensive innings were getting longer, so I took the mound with the idea that I had to wrap things up quickly so that the batters wouldn’t lose their focus,” he said. After that, I pitched at a fast tempo and tried to finish the inning quickly,” he said of his performance.안전놀이터
This year, Lim has thrown 14.9 pitches per inning and 3.87 pitches per at-bat. “My pitch count is low compared to my innings pitched, but I always try to go in with a strike,” he said, adding, “I always pitch aggressively because if I get hit by the first pitch or later, it’s still a hit, and if I have an advantage in the count, I usually throw a fastball.” He explained the change in pattern.
Finally, he said, “It’s an important time for the team to be in the middle of the standings, and if the team can win, I will try to be the player who comes out in any situation and protects the team’s victory.”