“I thought about throwing only sliders when you said sliders were weak” The strongest finisher was looking elsewhere than the commander
You’re confident in your form. That’s why last week’s struggle was not a pitching issue, but a condition issue. LG closer Ko Woo-seok (25), who throws the strongest four-seam fastball and slider of any middle reliever in the KBO, emphasized his confidence in his pitches.
Ko recorded his first five-out save of the season on May 5 against KT in Suwon. One-run lead at 5-4. Taking the mound with runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth inning, Go Woo-seok got the first batter, Lee Ho-yeon, to pop out to shortstop to quickly end the inning. Shortstop Oh Ji-hwan’s deft defense ended the inning.메이저놀이터
However, in the bottom of the ninth, the team faced a crisis again. Hong Chang-ki caught a pitch that could have been a hit to the leadoff batter, Choi Jae-dae, to help Go Woo-seok and the team. He then gave up a single to pinch-hitter Moon Sang-cheol, but got Cho Myung-ho to fly out to shortstop.
Then, after a seven-pitch battle with Hwang Jae-gyun, he struck him out swinging. With the count at 2-2, he threw a curveball as the deciding pitch, but Hwang Jae-gyun held his swing, and the last pitch, a four-seam fastball, was not able to overcome the pitch.
Ko earned his 13th save. LG improved to 68 wins, 43 losses and two ties on the season. They are 6.5 games clear of second-place KT and have a 6-5 record against them.
Here’s what Ko had to say to the media after the game.
-I had five saves with five outs. It’s the first time this season.
Before I start the interview, I would like to thank the officials of Suwon Stadium. Thanks to their efforts, the game was resumed. I was worried about the condition of the field, but I was able to play on a good field.
I was able to make five saves with one out, and that’s thanks to the defense. The defense did a great job. It was a difficult game, a difficult situation, and the defense helped me get through it.
-Last Saturday against Hanwha, you had a bad result. You said you had a conversation with Yoon about your pitch mix and that he advised you to throw more four-seam pitches rather than changeups. Did you incorporate that into your game today?
No, it didn’t.
Of course, I understood what he was saying, but I’m also stubborn. He told me that my slider was weak, so I thought about just throwing a slider from start to finish. I thought, “I have to show him,” and then when it came time to pitch, I couldn’t think of anything. Once I got on the mound, I just thought about throwing a fastball.
-Saturday, the slider came out of the rotation and went in, and the fastball went out of my hand. Why was it so bad that day?
I was really off-balance that day. I never really had that problem, but I threw off-balance that day. After I got hit by Choi Jae-hoon, I started throwing the ball with a pitching motion that I had never done in my life, and I made a really big mistake. It was a game where I was very angry with myself.
-I’m proud of my slider. It’s like I can’t give up on my slider because it’s a good pitch to get batters to hit.
There’s something to that. Also, sliders are the least risky pitches to hit. I think because I’ve been out for so long with injuries, he hasn’t seen me as much, so he feels like my slider is weak.
How did the final game against Hwang Jae-gyun unfold? I thought I was going to throw a curveball, but I didn’t get a swing on it. Afterward, I threw a four-seam and caught a false swing, but I felt like I was a little overwhelmed.
I was confident that if I reacted to the curveball, I could catch it unconditionally. Fortunately, Hwang Jae-gyun didn’t react to the curveball completely, but he reacted to it and didn’t swing, so I realized that I could win if I threw a fastball.
-Wasn’t it a shame that he didn’t swing at the curve?
Even if the curveball doesn’t win the game, if I can get him to react, I can win the game again with the next pitch. I thought that as long as the pitch wasn’t completely high or ridiculously out of the zone, I had a chance to win and I was going to go for it.
-How are you feeling now?
I would say I’m at my best. Last Saturday’s match was off-balance, but I’m not in bad shape. I had a bad game, but I made up my mind. I’m going to play every game like it’s the Korean Series again.
-What do you think about the ball mix?
I think it’s possible to have a bad result because of the ball mix. But that’s a later issue. The most important thing is to prepare well so that you don’t lose the balance. I don’t think it makes sense to talk about my pitches when I can’t throw them on the mound.
-You seem to be steadily increasing the percentage of your high fastball.
Yeah. I tried to keep throwing it high and it was going in and not falling out.
-Your team is doing well, but it’s also a tough season for you. How do you keep your mindset in check?
I don’t know. It was hard because I went to the 2021 Olympics and didn’t do well, and last year it was hard because I thought I was going to finish last, but I didn’t, so this year I’m feeling strongly that I shouldn’t just let it go and finish myself.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m more experienced and older, but I’m playing the season with the mindset that I might be a little shaky, but I won’t collapse. If I don’t, I try not to stress about it. Still, I’m grateful that they keep sending me out to compete, so I want to do well until the end.