A glimpse of the homegrown ace who won 17 games in 2019. How the Doosan Bears’ Lee Young-ha, 26, made a comeback and became the nation’s go-to guy again.
Lee has been the ace of the Doosan bullpen in September. In seven games in September, 카지노 he has an ERA of 0. In 9⅔ innings, he has allowed one unearned run, five hits, five walks, and two strikeouts.
Lee was acquitted after a lengthy trial in a bullying controversy that began last year. He only returned to the first team in June of this year. However, he was not able to contribute as much as expected in the bullpen. By August 3, he was 1-2 with a 7.32 ERA (16 earned runs in 19⅔ innings), 24 hits, 14 walks, and 16 strikeouts in 19 games.
However, on August 4, he was designated for assignment, giving him time to adjust, and he was a completely different pitcher. He returned to the first team on August 20 and has kept his pace steady. His ERA in September was 0, and since his return to the first team, his record is just 0.63 (1 earned run in 14⅓ innings) with three wins in 12 games.
The games against Daegu Samsung Electronics on the 22nd and Changwon NC on the 23rd showed a different Lee Young-ha. As Lee has maintained a steady pace, manager Lee Seung-yeop has been using him at key times. On the 22nd, Samsung Electronics had a 3-0 lead but was chasing the game and came back from the brink in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners on first and third. After getting the first batter, Kang Min-ho, to fly out to right field, Cho Su-hyun’s accurate throw to right field ended the inning without a run. He then pitched 1⅔ scoreless innings in the sixth to earn the save.
On the 23rd, the NC Dinos and Doosan Bears of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League played at NC Park in Changwon. Doosan Bears’ Lee Young-ha is pitching.
In the 23rd game, Lee took the mound in a hurry after starter Alcantara was unexpectedly pulled due to injury. It was a bases-loaded situation and he couldn’t warm up properly. “It was a day when our ace, Alcantara, was pitching. I thought he would pitch until the eighth inning, but then he got injured. I was chewing gum, and I swallowed it,” he said, adding, “I played a few catches and tried to warm up on the mound. It was a little stiff because it was a back-to-back, but I forgot about it when the infield fly ball came out,” he laughed. With the bases loaded, Lee retired two tough hitters in Martin and Kwon Hee-dong on a foul fly to first base and a straight fly to center field, respectively.
In the seventh, he got Oh Young-soo to fly out to left field and then struck out Do Tae-hoon and Ahn Jung-yeol in succession. In the eighth inning, Lee retired Kim Han-byul on a grounder to third, Son Asub on a grounder to shortstop, and Kim Sung-wook on a grounder to third. He pitched 2⅔ innings of two-strikeout perfection to secure the win.
“Actually, yesterday (against Samsung Electronics), we had runners on first and third with one out, so I thought I’d get the runner on third and limit them to one run, but (Cho) Doo-hyung didn’t give me any runs thanks to you,” Lee explained. “Today (against NC), I went up with the idea of stopping everything as I went up, and I think I got lucky with the foul balls coming in and the well-hit balls going in front of the batters.”
Recently, Lee’s velocity has skyrocketed. His fastball has been clocked up to 155 mph and his slider over 140 mph. He has regained his power. According to Sports2eye, the KBO’s official statistics site, Lee’s fastball averaged 146.5 kilometers and his slider averaged 134.4 kilometers before he was removed from the first team roster on August 4. However, after his return, his fastball averaged 148.5 kilometers and his slider 136.6 kilometers.
His recent performance is reminiscent of his career-high season in 2019, when he went 17-4 with a 3.64 ERA. Manager Lee Seung-yeop said before the game, “He’s the best pitcher in the team right now. It’s so good. His slider goes up to 140 kilometers. His strike rate has been increasing lately, so I feel comfortable on the mound. I don’t think the hitters are able to make their swings because Lee is in good shape.” Lee has been calling on Young-ha when his starting pitchers are in early to mid-inning trouble.
“I actually thought about it a lot during the time I was out of the game. I’m not a pitcher with a very good fastball, so I thought, ‘If the details don’t go well, I need to develop more strength. I have a lesser fastball than others, but I also have strength that others don’t have, so I thought, “Let’s maximize my advantages,” so I increased my strength and did a lot of weight training, which is helping me a lot now,” he explained.
Coming back after a long absence, he was motivated, but now he’s much more relaxed. “The difference from the beginning of my comeback is a lot of mental stuff. I wanted to keep doing well, and since the coach changed this year, I was very motivated to do well, but I think I’ve gotten better now because I’ve let go of that and thought, ‘Let’s just do my thing. I think my mindset has changed the most.” In this way, Lee Young-ha has become a reliable man that coach Lee Seung-yeop trusts.