It’s the afternoon of the 13th, and the game between Hanwha and LG has been canceled due to rain.
A veteran foreign pitcher who had dedicated himself to the team had not yet returned to his dormitory. This was his fifth year in the KBO, and he wanted to talk to his manager. It was Casey Kelly, 34, a long-haired, long-lived foreign ace who led LG’s mound.
LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop told reporters on the 13th, “Kelly asked me to have a tea time, so I’m waiting for him now. I also wanted to talk to her, but she requested it first, so I pulled out all the data to tell the story I wanted to tell,” he said.
Yeom is a very good communicator. He’s very good at talking to people and getting them to share their thoughts without misunderstandings. Basically, he respects his players. He knows better than anyone that the team will last longer and not collapse like a sand castle. “You have to communicate differently with each foreign player,” he said, explaining his philosophy.
The same is true for Kelly. Yeom is well aware of Kelly’s dedication as an ace for LG. Kelly has been the Twins’ No. 1 starter for the past four years and has become a favorite of many LG fans. In 114 games over four seasons prior to this season, he had a 58-31 record with a 2.89 ERA (697 IP, 224 H) and 555 strikeouts.
He went 14-12 with a 2.55 ERA in 2019, 15-7 with a 3.32 ERA in 2020, and 13-8 with a 3.15 ERA in 2021. Last season, he went 16-4 with a 2.54 ERA and 153 strikeouts to win the KBO’s Most Valuable Player title.
This season, Kelly hasn’t been quite the same, going 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 18 starts. In 107 1/3 innings, he has allowed 115 hits (six home runs), 26 walks, 71 strikeouts, and 61 runs (53 earned). He’s had five games with five or more earned runs. At one point, there was even talk of replacing him. However, the manager dismissed the speculation, saying, “Kelly is going to go the distance this season.”안전놀이터
Kelly closed out the first half of the season on April 12 against Hanwha in Jamsil. She pitched seven innings against Hanwha, allowing two runs (two earned) on five hits with two strikeouts. Although he didn’t get much support from his offense and took the loss, he was able to get out of the inning with his matching pitches. “In the end, I think you have to change your pitching design in the second half of the season,” Yeom said of the game. “When I got hit a lot in the first inning (against Hanwha on Dec. 12), my pitching design or pitching pattern was different from the third inning (when I was good).
“We’ll talk about what pitches to use at what point, what’s happening with different pitch counts, why the swing rate is low and why the walk rate is high after two strikes. At the end of the day, the changeup is the deciding pitch, and the changeup has the highest K rate in pitches 0-2. That means the changeup is not a deciding pitch. You have to use the data to tell the player exactly how to use the changeup to be more effective.”
LG is challenging for the big prize this season. In order to win the Korean Series, they need to finish first in the pennant race. Kelly’s resurgence in the second half of the season will give the team even more momentum. He has also been strong in the postseason, going 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA in six appearances. Will he be able to roar into the fall with LG fans?