The biggest concern of young Korean men is when to leave the military and finish their military service. In particular, in the case of KBO league players, choosing the timing of military service can be a very important decision for the team as well as the player himself. Some players enlist as soon as possible and complete their military service, while others delay enlistment for the sake of team performance.
Born in 1996 and graduating from Dong-A University, right-handed orthodox pitcher Lee Jeong-yong, who joined the LG Twins with the first nomination in 2019, pushed for enlistment as a managing director after the end of last year’s season. However, along with his teammate Lee Jae-won, he canceled his enlistment. This is because coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop, who is aiming for a championship by taking the baton of LG, asked Lee Jeong-yong and Lee Jae-won to continue playing in 2023.
There was also an expectation that Lee Jung-yong would be selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games scheduled for September. Last year, Lee Jeong-yong appeared in 65 games and recorded 4 wins, 4 losses, 1 save, 22 holds, an earned run average of 3.34, and an OPS (on-base percentage + avoid slugging percentage) of 0.639, the most holds since his professional debut. If he continued to fight at a level similar to or better than last year, he could have tried to benefit from military service by participating in the Asian Games in Hangzhou.
However, Lee Jung-yong’s start this season has been extremely sluggish. He appeared in 15 games and recorded 2 wins, 3 holds and 1 save, but his detailed indicators are poor with an average ERA of 5.93 and an OPS of 0.834. He also has a high WHIP of 1.61, the average on-base allowed per inning.
Lee Jeong-yong, who served as the temporary closer in place of finisher Go Woo-seok, who was delayed joining the first team due to injury, recorded 5 blown saves, which is the most in the league. After Go Woo-seok’s return, Lee Jung-yong returned to last year’s position as setup man, but he is still uneasy. In the 3rd home game against the KIA Tigers last weekend, Lee Jeong-yong recorded blown saves on the 28th and 30th of April. LG, which had Lee Jeong-yong’s hunting difficulties, fell into a 3-game losing streak after losing 3 games in a row over the weekend.
Lee Jung-yong’s sluggish performance seems to be related to a decrease in fastball velocity. The average velocity of the fastball, which was 146.8 km/h last year, decreased by 1.6 km/h to 145.2 km/h this year. Moreover, the location of the fastball as well as the breaking ball is generally high, so it is easy to allow decisive long hits. In the games on the 28th and 30th of last month, all high misses led to long hits, resulting in blown saves.
ㅋㅋㅋ벳 Some say that Lee Jung-yong’s slump started with the playoffs last year. In the 2022 playoffs, in the 3rd game, where LG and Kiwoom Heroes were equal with 1 win and 1 loss, Lee Jung-yong hit back-to-back home runs to Lim Ji-young and Lee Jung-hoo and recorded a blown save loss.
LG was eliminated in the 3rd and 4th games in a row and was frustrated to advance to the Korean Series. It is the view that Lee Jung-yong has not yet recovered from the sluggishness of the big game and the psychological burden of the team’s one-year farming failure. If he had enlisted in Sangmu after the end of last year’s season, he could have forgotten his painful memories and started anew due to the change in his environment, but he gave up enlisting and became poison.
LG completely lost last year’s powerful bullpen Pil Seung-jo, as not only Lee Jeong-yong, but also Jung Woo-young and closer Koh Woo-seok were all insecure. Attention is focusing on whether Lee Jeong-yong, who had a brutal April, will be able to live up to coach Yeom Kyung-yeop’s expectations with good pitching from May.