SSG Landers’ Seo Jin-yong, 31, has made history as the most successful closer in Korean professional baseball.
On May 5, Seo pitched the bottom of the 10th inning of a 9-6 win over the Sasik Lotte Giants to earn his 30th save of the season. He gave up two hits in the first inning, but didn’t allow a single runner into scoring position. After getting hit, he showed great composure by not going toe-to-toe with batters and using his changeup to get out of jams or induce grounders to get out of trouble.
With the win, Seo became the first of 10 closers to reach the 30-save plateau this season. He is the first pitcher to reach 30 saves without a blown save in 18 seasons since 2006, when blown saves began being tracked. “I honestly didn’t think about reaching 30 saves until now, but I’m really happy to have achieved the record, especially because I was able to protect the lead and contribute to the win without a blown save,” said Seo. “I’m grateful to all the players who helped me achieve the record, especially the bullpen, because they did a great job of handing me the lead.”
While his 1.53 walks allowed per inning (WHIP) through five games this season is on the higher end of the spectrum, he’s always been able to close out games. With runners on base or in scoring position, he was exceptionally focused. His ERA with runners on base (0.181) and in scoring position (0.145) this season was significantly lower than his ERA without runners on base (0.323). “I got myself into a lot of trouble, but I think the fact that I confidently battled the batters without thinking about it was the driving force behind my 30 saves,” Seo said. “I was grateful that coach Kim Won-hyung and the coaches believed in me even in a crisis situation, and I wanted to live up to their expectations.”안전놀이터
In addition to reaching the 30-save milestone, Seo also recorded 30 saves in the fewest games of any closer in the club’s history, including his previous stint with the SK Wyverns. Only four pitchers in SK~SSG’s history have recorded 30 or more saves: Cho Woong-chun (2003), Jung Woo-ram (now with the Hanwha Eagles-2012), Ha Jae-hoon (2019), and Seo Jin-yong, who reached the 30-save mark in his 43rd individual appearance after 91 games as a team, surpassing the previous record holder, Ha Jae-hoon (117 team games and 51 individual games).
It’s only a matter of time before he sets the record for the most saves in a season in SK~SSG history. Seo, who tied Cho Woong-chun and Jung Woo-ram (30+ saves) on May 5, needs at least seven saves in the rest of the season to surpass Ha Jae-hoon, who became the club’s all-time leader with 36 saves in 2019. “I want to maintain my good performance in the remaining games to break the club’s all-time record for most saves and win the league’s top save title,” said Seo.