Thursday, 22nd February 2024

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AG’s shadow that awakened after the ‘day’. Will 2024 be before or after that day

It was Lee Eui-ri, a left-handed pitcher of the KIA Tigers who was eliminated on Sept. 22, the day before the team’s call-up. Lee was selected as a member of the team, but he had blisters on his hand before the call-up, and he showed poor performance in his return game, and suffered the pain of being replaced by Yoon Dong-hee of the Lotte Giants. Coincidentally, Yoon Dong-hee was able to win the gold medal in the Asian Games, which was considered the weakest ever.

Lee was eliminated from the national team due to lack of recovery from his blisters, but the problem was his unstable ball control throughout the season. Lee had 10-7 losses and an ERA of 4.47 in 24 games prior to Sept. 22. He pitched 108 ⅔ and allowed 87 hits (four homers), and his on-base percentage was good at 215, but allowed 80 walks and eight walks, making his on-base percentage (WHIP) high at 1.54. He had a whopping 6.6 walks per nine innings.

In the match against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon on Sept. 21, his return match after blistering and his last appearance before the call-up, he was sluggish with two hits, two walks, and five runs (four earned) during one ⅓ inning. He got off to a clean start with three strikeouts in the bottom of the first inning, but he collapsed by allowing two hits and three four outs at once in the bottom of the second inning.

After the national team’s coaching staff eliminated Lee due to finger blisters, Lee had to confirm that he was in good physical condition. He also had to prove that he was a good pitcher even if he was selected for the national team.

Lee Eui-ri became the winning pitcher on Sept. 27, his first appearance since being eliminated, by allowing three hits, one walk, three strikeouts and no runs in seven innings against NC in Changwon. He pitched seven innings with just 77.

Lee has pitched more than five innings in three matches since then. At the match against Samsung on Oct. 9, Lee proved that he has no problem with his fingers by throwing 115 pitches.

The figures before and after his elimination were clearly different. Lee had one win and no loss with an ERA of 1.57 in four games since his elimination. He had 10 hits (zero home runs), 13 walks (zero four balls) and 23 strikeouts during 23 innings. His hit-out rate has improved to .23 and his WHIP has also improved to 1.26. The WHIP 1.26 is the 10th highest among pitchers who met the required innings. The number of walks per nine innings also decreased to 5.09.

Ryu Joong-il, who also served as the head coach of the APBC national team, recruited Lee Ui-ri to the national team again as he showed stable performance at the last minute. Lee also showed that he is qualified to be a member of the national team.

Lee Eui-ri, who started against Japan in the second round of the preliminary round at the Tokyo Dome on November 17, pitched six innings with six hits (one home run) and three walks, three strikeouts and two runs. Lee Eui-ri became a losing pitcher with only one point lost, but he proved that Lee’s pitching power also works against Japanese batters.

He was able to overcome the crisis by hitting one out in a row in the bottom of the first inning. He struck out Teruaki Sato, hit a fly to center field in Mannami Chusei, and was in danger of loading the bases with no outs in the bottom of the third inning with a walk, a hit and a walk, but he managed to block the bases loaded with one run by hitting Shugo Maki with a double play. He felt sorry for getting a solo shot from the leader Mannami in the bottom of the fourth inning. Lee Eui-ri’s ball was powerful to the end, as his last 96th fastball, which he threw while fighting against the last batter, Mannami, who hit a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, hit 152 km.

Lee Eui-ri is a high-ranking player with high ball power but has been criticized for his jagged ball control since his debut. However, Lee’s elimination from the Asian Games has had the effect of increasing Lee’s concentration.

Will Lee Ui-ri meet in 2024 be either before or after that day? The number of innings will tell. Lee was the only pitcher who threw 131 ⅔ innings in 28 starts last year, failing to meet the required innings. Lee said he had some reasons including injury, but failed to lead the team to that extent. Among pitchers who threw more than 130 innings, he pitched 19.3 innings per inning.

If Lee continues his concentration in the second half of last year, chances are high that he will meet an upgraded version of Lee Eui-ri in 2024. Will the pitcher who will continue the genealogy of the national team’s left-handed ace finally break the wall and show his true value.

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