Seo Jin-yong (31), the “guardian god” of the SSG in the KBO, was the first to reach the 30-save plateau. While he is accumulating saves at a rapid pace, his ‘blown save’ is ‘0’. This is a record that not even Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung), who is considered the best closer in the KBO, has ever achieved.
Seo took the mound in the bottom of the 10th inning against Lotte at Busan’s Sajik Stadium on May 5 and pitched a scoreless inning to preserve SSG’s 9-6 victory. He was shaky early in the inning, allowing a leadoff single to Noh Jin-hyuk, but induced a walk to the next batter, Ko Seung-min, to secure the win. After getting Park Seung-wook to fly out to left field to end the game, Seo earned the win for his team and his 30th save of the season.
Seo has been dominating the Save King race this season. He leads Doosan’s Hong Gun-hee (22) by eight saves after five days. KT’s Kim Jae-yoon and Lotte’s Kim Won-joong are tied for third with 18 apiece. His true value is evident in his blown saves. This year, Seo hasn’t allowed an opponent to tie or come back from a three-point deficit, and has secured the win for his team.
Of the eight closers who have collected 10 or more saves this season, including Hong Gun-hee (two), Kim Jae-yoon (two), and Kim Won-joong (three), Seo is the only one without a blown save. This season, Seo’s 30-save, 0-blown save record was the first since 2006, when the league began keeping track of such records. Oh Seung-hwan, who set the record for most saves in a season (47) with his dominant performance in 2011, also had a blown save on May 20 of that year against Doosan.
Seo Jin-yong, who joined SK in the first round (No. 7) of the 2011 KBO Draft, helped the team win the wire-to-wire title last year with his long, fastball and forkball. However, he was relieved of his closing duties in the second half of the season due to a decline in physical fitness. In his first full-time role as a closer this season, his biggest strength is his crisis management skills. He has appeared in 43 games so far, allowing eight runs (seven earned) in 44.1 innings and maintaining a stable ERA of 1.42.
On the flip side, his WHIP (walks allowed per inning) is high at 1.53, but he’s been more reliable with runners in scoring position and his FIPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) has been solid. At 0.323 and 0.889, respectively, Seo’s batting average and OPS drop to 0.181 and 0.494 with runners in scoring position. He’s overcome self-inflicted crises by allowing hits and walks with incredible focus.
If he keeps up the momentum, Seo could surpass the franchise record for saves in a season (36) set by Jae-hoon Ha, who played as a closer for SK (SSG’s predecessor) in 2019.
“I’ve been running so far without thinking about reaching 30 saves,” Seo said, “but I’m proud that I’ve been able to protect the lead and contribute to the victory without blowing a save this season.”안전놀이터
“I’ve gotten myself into a lot of trouble, but I think the fact that I confidently faced the batters without thinking about it is the driving force,” he continued. “I want to continue my good performance and break the team’s record for most saves and win the league’s save title.”