Kiwoom Heroes Jung Chan-heon (33) is showing a surprising performance beyond expectations.
Jeong Chan-heon will start the match against KT Wiz in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ held at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on the 9th.
Jeong Chan-heon, who struggled with an average ERA of 5.36 in 20 games (87⅓ innings) last season, declared free agency despite poor performance. But his market evaluation was grim, and he didn’t find his team until after this year’s exhibition games. In the meantime, Kiwoom, the original team, reached out and was able to finish the season by signing a contract for a total of 860 million won over 2 years.
Jeong Chan-heon, who was delayed in preparation for the season due to not being able to play an exhibition game with the spring camp, seized the opportunity to start the first team faster than expected due to the sluggish performances of Jang Jae-young and Lee Seung-ho, who were candidates for the 5th starter. And he recorded 1 win, 3 losses and an average ERA of 3.58 in 6 games (32⅔ innings).
Jeong Chan-heon recorded 6 innings, 5 strikeouts and no runs against SSG on the 3rd. He played a no-hit-no-4 walk game, not allowing a single batter to go on base, except for a strikeout, no-out, on-base, and an error on base. He only had 80 pitches until the 6th inning, but was replaced in the 7th inning when Kiwoom led 1-0 and finished the mound that day.
Jeong Chan-heon, who was in a situation where he could challenge for a no-hit-no-run, said, “Everyone said, ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘What if I went further? However, when he was first recommended by the coaching staff, I also said that I would go right down without hesitation. It would be great if he really set a record, but he had to think about the risk of affecting the next game if he didn’t. If the number of pitches had been around 60, I think I would have gone more. However, he judged that it would be unreasonable if he saw that he would throw about 40 more pitches in a state where he had already filled 80 pitches.”
Jeong Chan-heon, who underwent surgery for a back injury in 2019, has been thoroughly managed since switching to a starting pitcher. For the first time this season, he is digesting a five-man starting rotation without a guaranteed five-day rest day, but the number of pitches per game is limited to around 80 pitches.
“Honestly, I haven’t set a standard for the number of pitches,” said Jeong Chan-heon. If there is an important game later in the season and the opportunity comes to me, there will be a possibility of throwing 100 pitches. However, as of right now, I am burdened because I haven’t even taken part in spring camp. He explained, “I think the restrictions will be lifted as the season progresses.”
Regarding the no hit in the 6th inning, Jeong Chan-heon said, “Honestly, it doesn’t mean much” and “The reason why I could not get a hit as a result was the help of the defense. It’s not something I can achieve with my own capacity and ability. I knew it was a no-hit, but I didn’t care much because I couldn’t do better by being conscious.”
Jeong Chan-heon, whose maximum velocity is in the low 140km/h range, is not a pitcher who catches many strikeouts. Since he is a style that induces a lot of in-play batting, he often gets a lot of hits. However, Jung Chan-heon said, “It’s okay if I get a hit that hits me even if I get a hit. Since I am not a hitter who can overwhelm batters with pitches and catch them, there are times when I miss hits or hits with good courses. In the past, I paid a lot of attention, but whenever I did, I thought that if I regretted it, I would not be able to pitch. The moment the ball leaves my hands, I do everything I can, so I get help from the defense and hope the batter makes mistakes. If it’s right, I’m just going to do it.” He laughed.
“Of course, I don’t want to get a hit either,안전놀이터” said Jeong Chan-heon. If I missed it, but the course was good and it became a hit, I just judge that there is no problem with my ball now and move on.”
Jeong Chan-heon, who has only won one win this season despite good pitches, said, “It is most regrettable that the team loses. The players just have to work hard. It’s not something you can ask anyone to lose. The players are doing their best in their respective positions, but the results have not yet come out. There is still a long way to go, so I believe that the moment to get excited will definitely come.”