Lotte Giants’ Park Se-woong started the “Nakdong River Derby” rivalry game against the NC Dinos of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Sajik Stadium in Busan on April 25 and pitched his best game of the season, throwing 104 pitches in seven innings, giving up two hits, one walk, and striking out eight.
Park Se-woong must have had a lot on his mind. While he had one of the most impressive performances of any pitcher selected for the World Baseball Classic (WBC), he had a very bad start to the regular season. He went 1-0 with a 5.12 ERA in four games in April, including a disappointing start against SSG on April 4 when he allowed three runs (two earned) in 4⅔ innings. He also suffered a shocking early exit in his first start in May against the KIA, giving up three runs in 4⅔ innings.
However, he started to show signs of life on May 12 against the KT Wiz. The coaching staff, including pitching coach Bae Young-soo, and Park Se-woong put their heads together, and on the 19th, he pitched six innings of one-run ball against SSG, striking out six, and earning his first win in seven games.
“He’s a really good pitcher,” manager Larry Sutton said before the 25th game, “and he’s got better stuff than he thinks he has, and he can and does make those pitches. I think the pitcher is the offense. Park lost some of his offensive instincts early in the season. But recently, he’s regained it and is pitching to his strengths,” he said, expressing his excitement. And on the 25th, he made a perfect comeback.
Park used a mix of fastballs (28 pitches), curveballs (31 pitches), sliders (31 pitches), and forkballs (15 pitches) to keep NC’s lineup, which ranks second on the team in batting average, off balance. Of his 104 pitches, 74 were strikes, which speaks volumes about how aggressive and precise his control was.
It was a no-nonsense pitch. Park broke up the perfect start by striking out all three NC batters in the first two innings. He gave up his first hit with the bases loaded in the third inning, but he was unfazed and retired the next three batters in order in the fourth and fifth innings. After overcoming the biggest threat of the game, runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth, Park took the mound in the seventh and shut down the NC bats to complete his best outing of the season.
“It was an important game for the team and an important game for me, so it’s good to have a good result, and I don’t have much to say except that it’s good. First of all, I’m grateful to the team for scoring a lot of runs so that I could throw comfortably in the beginning of the game, and (Jung) Bo-geun was sitting behind home plate and gave me a comfortable lead, so it was easy for me to throw easily,” he said, giving credit to his teammates for the victory 메이저놀이터.
Until now, Park’s struggles have been with his pitches. At the beginning of the season, Park often found himself struggling in uncharacteristically favorable counts, and there were no shortage of wild pitches. However, he has since regained his aggressive approach to attacking the strike zone and has seen his performance improve dramatically.
“Previously, I was worried about going down early because I could only pitch about five innings,” Park said. However, as I pitched six innings in my last outing and seven innings in this game, I am not completely satisfied, but I feel that I am improving to some extent.” “The best time was at the beginning of last year, and I am up to 70-80% compared to then, if not more,” Park explained.
Lotte finished April in sole possession of first place, with all starting pitchers except Na Kyun-ahn underperforming. But as May began, Lotte showed signs of rebounding, with Dan Streeley, Charlie Barnes, Park Se-woong, and Han Hyun-hee all recording at least one quality start (6 innings, 3 earned runs or less).
Park Se-woong seemed to be slipping further and further away from a spot on the Hangzhou Asian Games team at the start of the season. However, his performance in May, including his 25th start, saw him go 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in four games. If he can continue his current form, the dwindling flame of hope could be rekindled.