LG pitcher Ham Deok-ju’s return to the first team continues to be delayed. He will undergo a medical examination for elbow inflammation. The results of the examination will determine his future return date.
LG will use bullpen relievers Ko Woo-seok and Jeong Woo-young when the team is called up for the Hangzhou Asian Games on June 23. If Ham Deok-ju’s return is delayed, there will be a lot of anxiety in the LG back office.
He was supposed to return after 10 days, but elbow inflammation?
After the Changwon NC game was canceled due to rain on the 14th, manager Yoon Kyung-yeop said, “Deuk-joo will be examined on Tuesday (19th) and a decision will be made. If the condition improves, I would like to put him in the first team on the 23rd, when the Asian Games team is convened, but I need to do an examination and see how the inflammation is,” he said.
“That’s when I was expecting him to come back, but he has to come back then, but the condition of his elbow is the most important thing, so we have to see the results,” he said.
Ham Deok-ju was removed from the first team roster on August 29. It wasn’t because he had a specific injury, but as an injury precaution. At the time, Yeom said, “It wasn’t an injury. It’s just that he’s been throwing a lot of innings, and his recovery has been slow. He hasn’t been feeling well lately, so I took him out to rest as a precaution.”
However, as he was preparing to return after a short break, his elbow was in bad shape. On the 5th, he said, “I played catch after taking five days off, and my elbow felt a little uncomfortable.” He said that he was planning to return in ten days. The original schedule of returning after 10 days was pushed back. Depending on the results of the examination, it could be delayed even further.
1.62 ERA, #1 in bullpen with 30+ appearances
Duk-Joo Ham has appeared in 57 games this season, posting a 4-4 record with 16 saves and a 1.62 ERA. Tied for sixth in holds. The only KBO bullpen pitcher with a sub-1 ERA in 30+ games this season. He has a 22.2 percent (6 of 27) stranded runners rate.
Ham has thrown 55⅔ innings this year. That’s a lot of innings compared to the last two years. It’s his most innings in five years after 67 in 2018.
Traded to LG from Doosan just before the start of 2021, Ham was limited to 21 innings in 16 games in 2021 due to an elbow injury. He underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow after the season.
In 2022, he threw 12⅔ innings in 13 games and was sent down to the second team in early May to prepare for a start before taking four months off with a lingering injury. He pitched in the Futures League in mid-September, but was unable to return to the first team and finished the season with the second team.
He was healthy this year and was a key part of the bullpen until late August, when fatigue took its toll.
Will bullpen anxiety grow?
In spring training, Yeom Kyung-yup developed four new relievers in Ham Deok-ju, Baek Seung-hyun, Yoo Young-chan, and Park Myung-geun. They filled the void left by the injuries to Ko Woo-seok, Jung Woo-young, and Lee Jung-yong early in the season. Yeom said that without the new bullpen, “we would be in fourth place right now.” The team’s contributions have been significant as the homegrown starters struggled early in the season. 안전놀이터
If Go Woo-seok and Jung Woo-young go to the Asian Games, the team will need to close the gap with a collective closing system. “In Go Woo-seok’s absence, it won’t be just one person finishing, but four people throwing depending on the game situation,” said Yeom.
Yoo Young-chan and Park Myung-geun have been struggling lately. If Ham Deok-ju’s return is delayed, the LG bullpen without Go Woo-seok and Jeong Woo-young could be in trouble.