‘QS in 63 days’ big pitcher’s regretful return…KIA’s ‘centerpiece’ is Yang Hyun-jong [SSGaze focus].

The big pitcher is back. He took the mound when it counted and led his team to victory. Tied the all-time record for most starts. KIA’s Yang Hyun-jong (35)스포츠토토 lived up to his name.

Yang pitched six innings of five-hit, one-walk, four-strikeout, two-run Quality Start (QS) ball against Hanwha in the 2023 KBO League regular season at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on June 26 to earn the win.

It was his sixth win of the season. He now has 165 career wins (109 losses). He has 163 wins in starts alone. He is tied for first place on the all-time wins list with ‘Legend’ Song Jin-woo.

Yang Hyun-jong of the KIA. Photo courtesy of the KIA Tigers

It’s been a long time coming. On July 6, he pitched five innings of one-run ball against SSG in Munhak. He lost three of his next four games. On July 16, he was scratched from the first team.

He made his comeback on the 26th after 10 days on the DL and pitched a QS. The team won big, 12-4. A three-game winning streak. It was a good day for both Yang and KIA in many ways.

It’s been a while since Yang’s last QS. His last one was on June 24 against the Gwangju KT, when he allowed one run in six innings (unearned). It took him 63 days to produce a QS.

KIA’s Yang Hyun-jong. Photo courtesy of the KIA Tigers

His most innings in his last six games is 5.2 innings. He was used to going beyond the sixth inning and into the seventh. His record of 170 innings in eight consecutive seasons is the only one in history. He was called a great pitcher and reigned as KIA’s ace. Somehow, this season was not easy.

Being out of the first team for a while seems to have done the trick. He was able to catch his breath and regroup. As soon as he came back, he pitched well. The batting lineup provided ample scoring support. There was no reason not to win.

KIA’s Yang Hyun-jong. Photo credit | KIA Tigers

This is the kind of pitcher Yang Hyun-jong is. He starts consistently, never misses a beat, and when he does, he throws long. He even pitches well. He wins, and his team wins. It’s just that we haven’t seen it lately.

Yang’s strong performance is also good news for KIA. Lee Yi-ri is on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, and foreign pitcher Mario Sanchez is out with a dislocated elbow.

The team needs Yang’s strength more than ever. If Yang Hyeon-jong had continued to struggle, KIA would have been left with only Thomas Pannoni and Yoon Young-chul in the starting lineup. When it really mattered, Yang Hyun-jong showed the strength of a big pitcher.