Lotte Giants’ Park Se-woong started the rivalry game of the ‘Nakdong River Derby’, the sixth game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League between the team and the NC Dinos at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 25th, and delivered his best pitching performance of the season with 104 pitches, two hits, one walk and eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Park Se-woong must have had a lot on his mind. While he had one of the most impressive performances of any pitcher selected for the World Baseball Classic (WBC), he had a very poor start to the regular season. He went 1-0 with a 5.12 ERA in four games in April, including a disappointing start against SSG on the 4th of last month when he gave up three runs (two earned) in 4⅔ innings. He also suffered a shocking early exit in his first start in May against the KIA, giving up three runs in 4⅔ innings.
However, he started to show signs of life on the 12th against the KT Wiz. The hard work of the coaching staff, including pitching coach Bae Young-soo, and Park Se-woong paid off on the 19th, when he pitched six innings with six strikeouts and one run against SSG for his first win in seven games.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” said manager Larry Sutton before the game on the 25th, “and he’s got better stuff than he thinks he has, and he can and does make those pitches. I think pitchers are the offence. Park lost some of his offensive instincts early in the season. But recently, he’s regained it and is pitching to his strengths,” he said, expressing his excitement. And on the 25th, he was back to his perfect self.
Park threw up to 150km fastballs (28) and a mix of curveballs (31), sliders (31) and forkballs (15) to keep NC’s batting line-up, which is second on the team in batting average, in check. Of his 104 pitches, 74 were strikes, a testament to his aggressiveness and precise control.
It was a no-nonsense pitch. Park broke up the perfect start by striking out all three NC batters in the first two innings. He gave up his first hit with the bases loaded in the third inning, but he was unfazed and retired the next three batters in order in the fourth and fifth innings. After overcoming the biggest threat of the game, runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth, Park took the mound in the seventh and shut down the NC bats to complete his best outing of the season.
“The team needed a win and it was an important game for me, so it’s good to have a good result, and I don’t have much to say except that it’s good. First of all, I’m grateful to the team for scoring a lot of runs so that I could pitch comfortably at the beginning of the game, and (Jung) Bo-geun was sitting behind home plate and gave me a comfortable lead, so I was able to pitch easily and effortlessly,” he said, adding that he was happy to share the credit for the victory with his teammates.
Until now, Park’s struggles have been with his pitches. At the start of the season, Park often found himself struggling in uncharacteristically favourable counts, and four-pitchers were no exception. However, he has since regained his aggressive approach to attacking the strike zone and has seen his performance improve dramatically.토토사이트
“In the past, I was worried that I was going down quickly, pitching only about five innings,” Park said. However, as I pitched six innings in my last outing and seven innings in this game, I am not completely satisfied, but I feel that I am improving to some extent,” Park said. “The best time was at the beginning of last year, and I am up to 70-80 per cent compared to then, if not more.”
Lotte finished April in sole possession of first place, with all starting pitchers except Na Kyun-ahn underperforming. But as May began, Lotte began to see signs of a rebound, with Dan Streeley, Charlie Barnes, Park Se-woong, and Han Hyun-hee all recording at least one quality start (six innings and three earned runs or less).
Park Se-woong seemed to be slipping further and further away from a spot on the Hangzhou Asian Games squad at the start of the season. However, his performance in May, which included a start on the 25th, saw him go 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in four games. If his form continues, the dwindling embers of hope could be rekindled.