LG Plutko evolves into a ‘monster’, Lotte’s epiphany against the date forgotten

LG Twins foreign pitcher Adam Plutko’s evolution into a monster began with a particular epiphany that he remembers down to the day. It was an intense experience in Busan that shaped the specialty ace who will dominate the KBO in 2023.

Plutko picked up his eighth win of the season with a seven-inning no-hitter against the Jamsil Lotte Giants on Sept. 1. His 11-start winning streak, which began on Aug. 28 last year against the Kiwoom Heroes, fully established him as a victory icon. 스포츠토토

Since opening the season, Plutko has been one of the league’s most dominant pitchers, going 8-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 11 games. In his second year in the KBO, he has learned to recognize the tendencies of Korean hitters and is the best ace among the 10 clubs.

While Casey Kelly, in his fifth year in the KBO, hasn’t quite lived up to expectations with a 5-3 record and 4.24 ERA in 11 games, Plutko has been anchoring the mound for LG.

LG head coach Yeom Kyung-yeop expressed his confidence in Plutko, saying, “Plutko has been a pillar in our starting pitching staff, which is why we had a +10 win-loss margin in May.”

Last year, Plutko was already one of the league’s top starters, going 15-5 with a 2.39 ERA in 28 games. This year, he’s perfected a cut fastball and a sweeper slider with a big lateral curve, allowing him to overpower hitters even more.

“I’ve been having a lot of success with my cut fastball, so I’ve increased the percentage,” Plutko said after the game against Jamsil Lotte on June 1. “It’s not common to throw a cut fastball high, especially against lefties, but I’m seeing results with it.”

As for Sweeper, he said he has been working diligently on his pitching based on his trial and error against Sasik Lotte on June 1 last year (5 innings, 3 runs, 1 earned run). Although the team won and he was the winning pitcher, he wasn’t satisfied with the sweeper.

He experimented with different grips on his sweeper and finally got the hang of it on June 14, 2022, when he pitched 8⅓ scoreless innings against Jamsil Samsung Electronics. From that game to this year, Plutko is 18-2 with a 1.68 ERA in 27 games.

“Last year on June 1 against Sasik Lotte, my slider didn’t come up as much as I wanted it to, but in my next start against KIA (June 8), I felt good throwing it. I kept that feeling and went out against Samsung Electronics (June 14), and from then on, everything clicked. I thought that’s all I needed to do, so I threw a lot of sliders,” he explained.

He also emphasized that his progress has been made possible by wearing the LG uniform. “When I joined LG, I was very lucky in terms of the situation. I often talk to my wife, and a year ago I wasn’t a very good pitcher,” he said. “I’m really grateful that LG gave me a chance, and I think that’s what leads to good results.”

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