Since the launch of the KBO League in 1982, the most memorable finisher is Oh Seung-hwan (41, Samsung Lions).
Just by looking at his record of 381 saves, the most in the KBO League, that is the case. His four-seam fastball speed and rotation were the best, enough to be called a ‘stone fastball’. In the past, Kim Yong-soo, Lee Sang-hoon, Koo Dae-seong, and Lim Chang-yong were also finishing pitchers who enjoyed an era. However, in terms of performance and intimidation, Oh Seung-hwan is by far the best.
Oh Seung-hwan, the oldest active pitcher, seems to have no choice in the face of time. He is sluggish this season with 2 wins, 3 losses, 11 saves and an earned run average of 4.65. However, Oh Seung-hwan reigned as the best closer in Japan. He was also recognized for his skills in the American Major League (MLB) by playing the role of setup man and finisher. Seon Dong-yeol (career ERA of 1.20) and Song Jin-woo (career-most wins, 210 wins) were also the best right-handed and left-handed pitchers in the KBO League, recording 132 saves and 103 saves, respectively, but were not professional closers.
Looking at the recent finishers in the KBO League, all of them are uneasy. He is driven by unfavorable ball counts and brings himself into crisis.
The closers in the past had excellent pitches, control, and stamina. Kim Yong-soo threw three pitches: a four-seam fastball (four-seam), a two-seam fastball (two-seam), and a slider. Lee Sang-hoon played four-seam and slider, and Koo Dae-seong played with various pitches. Oh Seung-hwan is close to four-seam and slider-to-pitch, but his pitch rotation is very good and the ball is heavy.
All of them used their position and control to catch the first strike and played the game in their favor. Also, before the division of labor of pitchers, it was common to pitch in the 7th and 8th innings.
These days, there are not many pitchers who can cleanly block the ninth inning given to them.
In particular, they tend to rely too much on the forkball. The forkball, which is caught with the index and middle fingers as wide apart as possible, is a difficult pitch to control freely. Corner work on the inside or outside is tricky. If you don’t, the pitch can be thrown into the middle and get hit. Forkballs are most effective when dropped below the strike zone to induce misses, but if the batter is not fooled, the ball will increase.
The percentage of forkballs used by top finishers in the league reaches 40-50%. Because he relies on the forkball, he overuses the ball. Naturally, the number of pitches per inning goes up, and the number of innings they are responsible for decreases.
At least, the closer that stands out the most in the current KBO league is Ko Woo-seok of the LG Twins. Lee Dae-ho (former Lotte Giants), whom we met at the year-end awards ceremony last year, pointed to Ko Woo-seok and said, “Coach, Woo-seok has a good cutter (cut fastball), so it’s difficult to attack him.” Ko Woo-seok does not throw a forkball.안전놀이터
Japanese pitchers are also highly dependent on the forkball. However, most of them control the forkball freely. In the Major League (MLB), closers throw a lot of changeups. If the changeup is difficult, a two-seam can be an alternative. However, few closers these days throw two-seams toward the body.
When a right-handed pitcher throws a two-seam, it bends slightly toward the body compared to a right-handed hitter. For this reason, two-seam is a pitch type that is easy to induce double batting. It is easy to mislead hitters trying to cope with the closer’s fast ball. It is good if the forkball draws the bat through restraint or up and down movement, but it is common to overuse the ball. A two-seam match can complicate the batter’s head.
With a two-pitch consisting of a four-seam and a forkball, the limits seem clear. I hope there will be more reliable finishers who boast bolder game and elaborate control.