The Hanwha Eagles’ starting rotation will change in the second half. Hopefully, we’ll see a duo of 160-kilometer fastballs.
Hanwha started the season with a starting rotation of Butch Smith-Felix Peña-Kim Min-woo-Jang Min-jae-Moon Dong-joo.
However, the rotation was shaken up in the opening game when Smith left the game with an injury and was placed on waivers, and Kim Min-woo was placed on the disabled list. Jang Min-jae was also sent down to the second team on June 12 after struggling for three consecutive games.
Inevitably, Hanwha’s starting lineup was going to need some new faces. Fortunately, Ricardo Sanchez, who replaced Smith, has been doing a good job. Han Seung-ju and Han Seung-hyuk are filling the gaps left by Kim Min-woo and Jang Min-jae, so the lineup at the end of the first half was Peña-Sanchez-Moon Dong-joo-Han Seung-ju-Han Seung-hyuk.
However, the second half will be different. Choi Won-ho hinted at a change in the second half starting lineup. There will be competition for one starting spot.
For now, Peña, Sanchez, Moon, Dong-joo, and Han Seung-hyuk are confirmed. Jang Min-jae and Kim Seo-hyun will compete for the other five spots. Han Seung-ju will start in the bullpen.
Jang Min-jae, who was the fourth starter in the first half of the season, focused on improving his condition in the second team. On March 23, he pitched six innings of one-run ball in a second-team game against Doosan, signaling his return to form. On May 5, he threw three scoreless innings against Goyang.
“I received a report that Jang Min-jae had improved a lot, and I was looking for the right time to call him up,” Choi Won-ho said.
However, there was a stiff competition. Super Rookie Kim Seo-hyun.
Drafted by Hanwha as the No. 1 overall pick, Kim started out in the bullpen with a strong fastball. But in late May, his pitches faltered and he was sent down to the second team to make adjustments.
Since then, Kim has taken on a new challenge. The transition to the starting rotation. In June, after a solid start, Seohyun Kim made three appearances as a starter. She gave up two runs (one earned) in 2 innings, no runs in 3⅓ innings, and one run in 5⅔ innings.
Coach Choi Won-ho said, “Kim Seo-hyun has increased his pitch count to 97, including practice games. His obvious advantage is his velocity. His average speed is between 153 and 154 kilometers per hour. When it’s in the strike zone, hitters react differently. A right-handed pitcher should have a main weapon against lefties. But since his average velocity is around that level, his changeup can work even if it’s a little weaker,” said Choi, who was positive about Kim’s transition.
As a former pitcher, Choi personally believes that Kim Seo-hyun should be developed into a starting pitcher.
“I think a top prospect should be a starter. If they start as a starter and gain a variety of experiences, they will have a better chance of success when they switch to the bullpen. If you start in the bullpen, you typically don’t have crisis experience. If you start in the bullpen, you typically don’t have crisis management experience. You can also systematize your training by starting.”온라인바카
If Kim joins the starting staff, he and Moon will form a 160 kilometers per hour fastball duo. However, the deadline is the end of August.
Moon will be done pitching by the end of August. Hanwha will keep a close eye on Moon. They want to get him from 115 innings to a maximum of 120 innings before heading to the Hangzhou Asian Games in September.
Choi Won-ho said, “If it doesn’t get delayed by rain, Moon Dong-ju’s pitching will end at the end of August. “In the second half of the year, we’ll have him pitch about seven games, five innings each,” Choi said. “In the Asian Games, he’ll pitch 10 innings, maybe 15 if we’re generous. I’ll pitch one start in the preliminaries, and then the semifinals and finals, which will be short.” “Normally, I’ll finish my pitching schedule at the end of August, so I’ll have about three weeks before the tournament. After that, I’ll be conditioning like a pitcher going straight to the Korean Series. The first week will be catching, the second week will be pitching, and the third week will be pitching two or three innings.”
With Kim Seo-hyun in the lineup, if all goes according to plan, we could see the fastball duo on the mound by the end of August. The second half of the season will be interesting to watch for changes in Hanwha’s starting lineup.