Is it still too early?… Choi Jun-yong’s stone fastball we knew, when will he return?

Lotte Giants Choi Jun-yong (22) expected to occupy a clear spot in the Lotte Pilseung-jo this year.

In the first year of joining as the first nomination in 2020, he showed potential with 31 games, 2 losses, 8 holds, an average ERA of 4.85 (29⅔ innings, 16 ERA) and 26 strikeouts, and established himself as a winning group in 2021, the following year. He was unable to properly play the first half due to a shoulder injury, but returned in the second half and showed off his untouchable side, achieving 20 holds, a record that is a symbol of a winning group. His earned run average is 2.85.

But last year suffered a setback. He prepared for starting in the spring camp, but due to an injury to finisher Kim Won-joong, he was assigned the position of closer at the start of the season. The beginning of the season was okay, but it got more and more inconsistent as time went on. He finished the season with 3 wins, 4 losses, 14 holds, 6 saves, and an ERA of 4.06 in 68 games and 71 innings. 

Using the trial and error of last year as a stepping stone, this year I made a firm resolution myself. The coaching staff also nailed Choi Jun-yong’s position as Pil Seung-jo early on. However, Choi Jun-yong did not improve his condition through spring camp and demonstration games. His performance in demonstration games was also 5 games, 4 innings, 9 hits (3 home runs), 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, 7 runs (6 earned runs), and an earned run average of 13.50. After all, the season started with the 2nd team.

His condition wasn’t very good, and he wasn’t naturally well-balanced. Even after the opening, I did not catch the ball in the second group for a while and corrected the balance. He also slowly prepared for his actual appearance. On the 14th, in a practice game against Busan University of Science and Technology, he recorded 1 hit, 2 strikeouts and no runs in 1 inning. 19 pitches. His best speed was 146 km and he averaged 143 km. 

And on the 18th, he appeared in the Futures League game. In the Futures League match against Samsung held at Sangdong Stadium in Gimhae, he recorded 2 hits, 2 strikeouts and no runs in 1 inning. His highest speed was 146.8 km, and he averaged 144.3 km. 18 pitches.

Restriction and restraint are not synonymous. There are pitchers who are evaluated as having good pitches even if they do not have fast velocity. Choi Jun-yong was representative. He showed an excellent pitch even with a ball in the mid-to-late 140km range, although not exceeding 150km. With over 2,500 revolutions per minute (rpm), a heavy fastball that seemed to rise made Choi Jun-yong a proud and representative young gun of the league. 

However, the current restraint as well as the pitch are not very good. Lim Gyeong-wan, pitching coach of the Lotte Futuresteam, said, “I’m trying to throw hard, but my pitch isn’t perfect yet. The curve is also not perfect. Even if he threw 150 km at the end of the exhibition game, it was not the same 150 km ball. He must also be a perfect command,” he commented cautiously. For Coach Lim to judge for himself, he has not yet risen to the stage where he can play the role of a winning team at the first-team level. In fact, the speed of the fastball was not constant that day. His fastball hit 140 km.

Director Larry Sutton said, “I know that Choi Jun-yong is working hard. However, he thinks the process Choi Jun-yong is going through is also very important. It is time to learn what kind of pitcher he is and what kind of pitcher he has,” he said. “I am confident that it will not take long for him to discover what kind of pitcher he is. When he finds that figure, he will return to the original form of Choi Jun-yong.” He was positive about Choi Jun-yong’s return, but did not mention the timing of his immediate return. 

However,바카라사이트 it is not easy for the current starting lineup to fill the 5th inning, let alone the 6th inning. Lotte recorded quality starts (less than 3 earned runs in 6 or more innings) twice, but both were recorded by Na Kyun-an. Excluding 18 ⅔ innings in 3 games in which Na Kyun-an took the mound, the remaining 4 pitchers only managed 50 1/3 innings in 10 games. Eventually, the bullpen becomes overloaded. Except for Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong, the pitching staff is being operated according to the situation without a clear victory card. I can’t help but miss Choi Jun-yong’s existence. At least, Kim Sang-soo and Kim Jin-wook are struggling to break through the present.

First of all, I don’t think of the 1st group field urgently. It is expected that Choi Jun-yong will be called up after judging his physical condition and physical condition. It is expected to appear in the Futures League match against Samsung on the 19th. When will Choi Joon-yong be able to come up to the first team with the heavy stone fastball we used to know?

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