Kia Tigers manager Kim Jong-kook was not disappointed with Lee Yi-ri’s pitching performance in his return from injury. He said it was a great achievement just to see him healthy.
“I heard that Lee Yi-ri was fortunately pain-free after his start,” Jong-guk said before the Tigers’ 11th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Friday, “and I think he’ll be a little more relaxed and pitch well in his next start.”
KIA swept a three-game weekend series with an 8-6 come-from-behind victory over the Incheon SSG Landers on April 3. Pajuk’s eight-game winning streak was extended and he jumped from fifth to fourth place.
However, Lee Yi-ri, who started the game, pitched a one-hitter. Lee made his first start against the KT Wiz in Suwon on March 22, but after complaining of feeling unwell during the game, he was diagnosed with a simple inflammation of the shoulder joint during a medical examination the next day. He rested for 10 days before returning to the first team.스포츠토토
Lee pitched three innings against SSG on March 3, giving up four runs on four hits, two home runs, three walks and four strikeouts. He was shaky, giving up homers to Choo Shin-soo and Cho Hyung-woo, and was taken off the mound sooner than expected.
Manager Kim Jong-kook explained, “For the last three days of SSG, Lee Yi-ri’s pitch count was set at 80 to mid-80s beforehand, so he could only throw until the third inning.”
He also said, “I think Lee was pitching with a little bit of worry instead of worrying about his physical condition. I think he’ll be a little more relaxed in his next start.”
Lee is 10-6 with a 4.11 ERA in 22 games this season. While he’s reached double-digit wins for the second straight year, he hasn’t been an “innings eater” with a 6.38 walks per nine innings allowed. He averages just 4⅔ innings per start.
If Lee can provide a solid one-game outing per start, KIA will have more breathing room on the mound. With Lee expected to make two to three more regular-season starts before joining the national team for the Hangzhou Asian Games later this month, it’s crucial for the team to keep him on track.
While Kim Jong-guk hasn’t specifically mentioned Lee, he has emphasized the importance of the starting pitching staff if KIA is to maintain its current momentum. With foreign pitcher Sanchez out with an injury, the Korean starters need to step up to the plate to make the leap from fourth to third place at the end of the season.
Coach Kim Jong-guk said, “Recently, the starting pitchers are my biggest concern. The bullpen has been doing a great job. They are keeping the runs to a minimum in every game.” “Thanks to the bullpen, the hitters are also gaining strength. I’m worried about the starting pitchers.”