Four players attempted to record 30 saves in three consecutive years. Three consecutive 30-save seasons, something only three other pitchers have done in the 41-year history of the game. This is a feat that can only be accomplished if a number of conditions are met, including being able to play a full season without injury and having a team win a lot of games to give him the opportunity to save.
This year, Samsung Lions’ Oh Seung-hwan, LG Twins’ Ko Woo-seok, KT Wiz’s Kim Jae-yoon, and KIA Tigers’ Jeong Hae-young have challenged the legendary record by recording 30 saves for two consecutive years until last year.
These are the players who ranked first through fourth in saves last year. Go Woo-seok was first with 42 saves, Kim Jae-yoon was second with 33 saves, Jung Hae-young was third with 32 saves, and Oh Seung-hwan was fourth with 31 saves. Unsurprisingly, they started the season as the team’s main closers.
However, the KBO’s saves ranking is completely different from last year.
SSG’s Seo Jin-yong, the ‘gatekeeper of Seosume’, is in first place with 28 saves, followed by Doosan’s Hong Gun-hee with 21 saves. Lotte’s Kim Won-joong is third with 17 saves.
The best performer among the four challengers is Kim Jae-yoon. He is tied for fourth with Kim Chang-min of Kiwoom Heroes with a 3-2 record and 16 saves in 34 appearances. His ERA of 1.63 is also very good. KT manager Lee Kang-cheol shows his trust in Kim Jae-yoon by saying, “He has the best fastball rotation among our bullpen pitchers.”
In the beginning of the season, the team’s performance was so bad that he didn’t have many save opportunities. He had only five saves in two months, including three in April and two in May, but accumulated 11 saves, including seven in June and four in July. With KT currently on the rise, Kim will have plenty of opportunities to pitch in save situations. For now, he is the closest of the four challengers to the record. Kim will be a free agent after this season, so he could be a big name if he hits the free agent market with three consecutive 30-save seasons.
Oh Seung-hwan is tied for sixth with 13 saves. He also has 2 wins, 3 losses, and 2 holds. He’s also made some starts to shake things up when he’s struggled as a closer. He has a 4.54 ERA, which is not good. With the team’s struggles, it is doubtful that Oh Seung-hwan will get enough chances to make 17 saves.
With 10 saves from Jung Hae-young and seven from Go Woo-seok, it seems unlikely that he will be able to reach 30 saves. Chung, who was aiming for the youngest record, struggled with poor form early in the season and spent time with the second team in June to regain her form. In the three-game series against Lotte, she picked up three consecutive saves and definitely regained her closing form. Kia’s good form could put Jeong in a lot of save situations, but there aren’t many games left to be optimistic about. 메이저놀이터
Go Woo-seok was in danger of missing the milestone when he suffered a shoulder injury at the WBC, followed by a side injury. He converted all seven of his saves and is still a reliable finisher, but his chances are slipping away. He will be called up to the Asian Games squad in mid-September. 30 saves is out of the question.