The pitching staff was no exception. As if waiting wasn’t enough, the KIA Tigers finally decided to remove Yang Hyun-jong (35) from the first team roster.
Ahead of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League regular season home game against the Kiwoom Heroes at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Buk-gu, Gwangju, on Saturday, the Tigers removed Yang Hyun-jong and Kim Ki-hoon (23) from the first team roster and added Park Joon-pyo (31) and Kim Jae-yeol (27).
The decision made sense based on their performances. Yang Hyun-jong was 2-2 with a 7.71 ERA in his last three starts, giving up 14 runs in 16 1/3 innings. That figure doesn’t include the eight runs in two innings of a no-game that was rained out on the eighth, which would have pushed his season ERA even higher.
Until May, Yang was on a roll with a 2.29 ERA in eight games. However, on June 2, he began to have one big meltdown after another, starting with nine runs in two innings against the Busan Lotte Giants.
His poor performance against Kiwoom the previous day (June 15) was crucial. After a week’s rest, Yang pitched like an ace until the third inning. After getting all three outs in the first inning on three pitches, he managed his pitches efficiently, getting the other batters out in less than five pitches despite a couple of fielders’ errors.
However, his luck ran out in the fourth inning. In the fourth inning, Lee Joo-hyung’s shot was unsuccessful, and Jeon Byung-woo’s shot hit the foot of shortstop Park Chan-ho for a double. Kim Dong-heon and Kim Jun-wan walked to load the bases, and Kim Hye-sung’s home run knocked them down. The sixth inning didn’t help either, as reliever Kim Ki-hoon walked both runners he faced. In the end, Yang’s final line was 5⅔ innings, six hits (one home run), four walks, five strikeouts, and seven runs.
The loss of their homegrown ace is certainly bad news for KIA. With 16 games remaining, KIA is in a tight race for sixth place, 1.5 games behind the fifth-place Doosan Bears (49 wins, 1 tie, 48 losses).
This is bad news for KIA, whose starting pitching has been shaky in the second half with a team ERA of 5.04 (8th in the league). Thomas Pannoni has been anchoring the rotation with a 1.93 ERA in four games, but Yoon Young-cheol (4.32), Lee Yi-ri (4.76), and Mario Sanchez (6.84) have all been shaky and have struggled to keep the winning streak alive. 먹튀검증
With no specific injuries, Yang is expected to return on the 10-day disabled list, and all eyes will be on him to see if he can provide a solution.