Expecting to compete for the No. 5 spot→Switching to the bullpen→First start in 1056 days…Given another chance in the playoffs, will the fifth-round pick crack the code this time?

It’s a starting job in the biggest game of the year.

KIA Tigers fifth-year left-hander Kim Ki-hoon (23) will make his first start of the season. KIA manager Kim Jong-kook will start Kim on Thursday against the Lotte Giants at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju. Kim has appeared in relief in all 28 games for the first team this season. His last start for the first team was on October 23, 2020, against the LG Twins in Gwangju (2⅔ innings, 1 hit, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 4 runs, 1 earned run – loss). If he takes the mound against Lotte as scheduled, it will be his first start in 1056 days.

Expectations were high for Kim Ki-hoon, who completed his military service with the Sangmu last year. He made significant improvements to his struggling pitches and produced results in the Futures (second-tier) league. He was selected as an All-Star in the 2022 KBO Futures League and won the Most Valuable Pitcher award after throwing three scoreless innings of relief with a fastball that topped out at 149 mph. Expectations were even higher after his release from the military, when he posted a 1.04 ERA in five games and 8⅔ innings for the first team. In this year’s spring training, KIA considered Kim Ki-hoon as one of the five starting pitchers along with Yoon Young-chul (19) and Lim Ki-young (30).

Maybe it was the pressure. Kim didn’t show much power in the exhibition games. In the end, Yoon won the battle for the fifth spot, and Kim started the regular season in the bullpen.After 28 games and 31⅓ innings pitched this season, Kim is 2-0 with a 3.45 ERA. While he hasn’t given up a home run, he has walked 34 batters while striking out 26, and his WHIP (walks allowed per inning) is a respectable 1.95. He doesn’t seem to be able to solve the problem of pitching anxiety. 스포츠토토

While Sanchez is still recovering from his injury, Kia also had to shuffle its rotation after Lee Yi-ri returned from shoulder inflammation with a blister. After using alternate starters Hwang Dong-ha (20) and Kim Gun-kook (35) for four games, including a doubleheader against LG in Gwangju on Aug. 8-10, KIA opted to give Kim a chance.

Kim said, “Kim Ki-hoon has been pitching in the Future Team. He was also a starter in the commercial team. We thought we should give him more of a chance to start rather than the bullpen,” said Kim. “At this point, we want to give him one more chance because he has starting experience.” “His performance in the Futures was good, but the first team is a different stage,” he said. “I don’t expect much from him right now, but I want him to pitch as many innings as possible at 60-70 pitches like Hwang Dong-ha and Kim Gun-guk. If he gets good pitches, he can go a little longer.”

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