A ‘Trade’ Pitcher Turns Into a Real ‘Winning Hitter’…Refining His Changeup, Sharpening His Curveball for the Third Time in a Row

He dutifully carried out his manager’s orders and honed his third weapon.

LG pitcher Choi Won-tae lived up to the expectations of manager Yeom Kyung-yeop and LG fans with a completely different look after his second stint in the second team. On April 24, Choi started against Hanwha at Jamsil Stadium and earned the win with seven innings of six-hit ball (one solo home run), one walk, and eight strikeouts. Aside from a solo home run, he had a solid outing.

In late July, LG sent prospect Lee Ju-hyung, rookie pitcher Kim Dong-gyu, and a 2024 first-round draft pick to Kiwoom to bolster its homegrown starting rotation and acquired Choi Won-tae in a trade.

On July 30, Choi threw a six-inning no-hitter against Doosan to earn the win. However, he has since struggled with up-and-down pitching, going 2-2 with an 8.27 ERA in eight games in an LG uniform. Choi Won-tae’s struggles have been even more bitter for LG, as Lee Joo-hyung has been on fire in a Kiwoom uniform with a 3-for-3 batting average.

In his last three games, Choi was pummeled for 20 runs in 9⅔ innings. He was eventually demoted to the second team after giving up seven runs in 2⅔ innings against KIA on April 10. Yoon cited fatigue from pitching more innings in the first half of the season than last year, as well as a decline in the value of his changeup, as reasons for his slump.

A game between the LG Twins and the Hanwha Eagles in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ was held at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on the afternoon of Sept. 24. LG’s Choi Won-tae pitches in the third inning.

In his first game back in 14 days, Choi Won-tae lived up to the expectations of the “championship hitter. Against Hanwha batters, he left runners on base in every inning from the first to the sixth, but the leadoff hitter started with a solid out. He stranded runners on first and second in the first, second and second in the second, second and first in the third, and first and first in the fourth.

He gave up a solo home run to Lee in the fifth on a slider, and got out of a jam with runners on first and second in the sixth with a 2-1 lead. In the seventh, he retired the side in order for the first time on the day.

His fastball was up to 148 mph and he threw 92 pitches. He threw a fastball (33), two-seam (9), slider (25), changeup (15), and curve (10). His four-seam and two-seam pitches had good command, and he struck out five batters with his curveball in addition to his changeup.

After the game, Choi Won-tae said, “Coach Kyung Hyun-ho and Coach Shin Jae-woong helped me a lot in the second team. Coach Kyung Hyun-ho said he wanted me to throw a two-seam and told me to use a two-seam. Coach Shin showed me a video of when I was good, and he said that my arm is a little bit up now, but if I lower it a little bit, the two-seam movement will be good. I went back to the height of my arms when I was good,” he explained.

On the afternoon of the 24th, a game between the LG Twins and the Hanwha Eagles in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ was held at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.In the top of the 6th inning, LG’s Choi Won-tae strikes out Hanwha’s Park Jung-hyun for a strikeout. 2023.09.24 /jpnews@osen.co.kr

Yoon said Choi’s main pitch is his changeup,스포츠토토 and he needs to mix it with his fastball to keep hitters off balance. “I tried to throw my changeup in the early innings, but I kept getting hit (by balls), so I thought, ‘Let’s get a feel for my changeup when I’m a little more relaxed,’ so I threw a lot of sliders and curveballs in the early innings, and I was able to get through the first inning and go to the seventh inning with fewer pitches by throwing my fastball and changeup in the second half,” Choi said.

“My curve is not my secondary pitch, so I don’t use it that much, but I felt like it was good for strikes today. I think I need to use my curve a little better.” In addition to his changeup, a big breaking curve can be a secret weapon to catch batters off guard.

When asked about his recent struggles, Choi said, “I didn’t throw it well. It’s not that I wasn’t lucky, but… I prepared to use my changeup and curveball more in the second team,” he said. He wasn’t overly thrilled with his performance, saying, “It was good, but I’m not satisfied. “It was good that my changeup was out early and I threw my curveball for strikes. The changeup got caught a little bit in the second half.”

Choi said he didn’t feel much psychological pressure when he was struggling because his teammates were doing well. He emphasized the need to do better in the remaining games. “I think I’ll get better if I keep practicing hard,” Choi said.

LG Twins and Hanwha Eagles played the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on the afternoon of Sept. 24. LG’s Choi Won-tae points to Hanwha’s Moon Hyun-bin’s fly ball to first base in the top of the seventh inning.

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