“Broken by restraints”: How a free agent waiver wire pitcher turned into an ‘ace’

“I convinced him in spring training.”

LG Twins pitcher Im Chan-kyu has transformed into a completely different pitcher. Im pitched seven innings of four-hit, five-strikeout ball with no walks and four strikeouts to earn the win against the Gwangju KIA Tigers on 28 April. It was a complete game shutout of his opponent, Shawn Anderson, and he mowed down the KIA bats for seven innings on his own.

It was an unbelievable performance for a doubleheader start. Five days earlier, on the 23rd, Lim pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Incheon SSG Landers to earn the win. That’s two wins in one week.

The victory was even more valuable because it was his own. Last year, Lim had a 6-11 record with a 5.04 ERA. He had his share of struggles. There were many starts where he didn’t make it past five innings, and when he was eligible for free agency after the season, he declined. He chose to wait it out.안전놀이터

And it paid off. After being pushed out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen earlier this season, Lim has been a completely different pitcher since his return. In particular, he has a 1.13 ERA in 24 innings pitched since the start of May, with four wins in four starts.

Unsurprisingly, this has had a very positive impact on the team. The resurgence of Lim has given LG the impetus they need to move into sole possession of first place. In addition to the foreign ‘one-two punch’, they now have a solid domestic starter. Out of the seven games Im has started this season, LG’s team record is an overwhelmingly positive 5-2. Last week’s 4-2 win in the six-game series against SSG-KIA was largely due to Im’s ‘ace’ performance in two appearances.

This is the pace of a monthly MVP. Coach Yeom Kyung-yeop declared, “He is the third starter of our team right now.” The content of his pitches is also faultless.

Yeom said the two things that have changed the most are “giving up his obsession with fastballs” and “utilising his curveball. “Before this year’s camp, I told him, ‘You’ve been ruined by your fastball. You need to get rid of it. I convinced him during the camp that he can be a good pitcher with a variety of pitches, even if he doesn’t use his fastball.”

His curve is also paying off. Lim used less of his slider and more of his curveball and changeup than last year. “I’ve been using a lot of curveballs and changeups, and it’s working. If you try to compete with only fastballs and changeups, it’s hard. He is a pitcher who lives when he has a curveball. I’ve been actively using my curveball from the first inning, and it’s working.”

With Lee Min-ho out with an injury, LG was not without concerns about its domestic starting pitching staff, but if Im Chan-kyu continues to pitch like this, there will be no need to worry. With Im’s performance, LG’s lead has been given a boost.


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