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Bullpen workhorse always on call in championship series

2018/11/09 17:32

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By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- SK Wyverns' left-handed reliever Kim Tae-hoon has been a workhorse for his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club all season, and that's not about to change -- not with his club sitting two wins from their first title in eight years.

Kim, 28, set career highs with 61 appearances and 94 innings pitched during the regular season. He also won a personal-best nine games and posted a 3.83 ERA, the lowest in his seven-year career.

And Kim has been manager Trey Hillman's most trusted option out of the pen. In six postseason games -- four in the previous series and two in the Korean Series -- Kim has yet to give up an earned run in seven innings, while striking out eight and walking three.

Kim Tae-hoon of the SK Wyverns throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap) Kim Tae-hoon of the SK Wyverns throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Prior to Game 4 against the Doosan Bears on Friday, Kim said he still has a lot left in his tank. Kim pitched 1 2/3 innings in Wednesday's 7-3 victory and earned an extra day off when Game 4 was rained out on Thursday.

"I could have pitched yesterday, and I am definitely ready to go tonight at any moment," Kim said at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, just west of Seoul. "I think resting yesterday will help me a great deal. And we had some time off after the end of the regular season, too."

   The Wyverns had the second-best record in the regular season and earned a bye to the penultimate playoff round. They had 13 days off between the end of the regular season and the start of their postseason against the Nexen Heroes on Oct. 27.

SK pitching coach Son Hyuk ordered Kim and other relievers not to even pick up a baseball for one week. Kim said he was itching to throw and he even got caught throwing on his own.

"I was pretty pumped to be back on the mound after having that week off," Kim said. "I was refreshed and that week off did wonders."

   In Wednesday's game, Kim relieved starter Merrill Kelly in the eighth inning. He worked around a two-out single in the eighth but was lifted after allowing two straight singles with two outs in the ninth.

Kim would have earned his first Korean Series save if he had closed out the game, but he handed the reins over to Jung Young-il to finish the business.

"It was disappointing to miss out on that opportunity. I think I got a bit carried away with two outs," Kim said. "If I have another chance for a save, I'll try to stay within myself and not get too excited."

   jeeho@yna.co.kr

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