‘Acknowledging Reality’ Kim Kwang-hyun and Yang Hyun-jong’s transformation, how they prepare for their ‘final concert’

Yang Hyun-jong (35, KIA), who moved into sole possession of second place on the KBO’s all-time wins list with 162 career victories, is a little more erratic these days with his four-seam fastball. He throws fastballs in the high 140s, but occasionally throws a ball in the 130s.메이저사이트

Every player has their own routine, and it’s not easy to change that routine once it’s established. This is especially true for Yang Hyun-jong, who has 162 wins to his name, but lately has been throwing a slower fastball. It’s the so-called “jibe” that players often talk about on the field. He throws it like a fastball, but with a different velocity, as if he were throwing a changeup. It’s meant to throw hitters off their timing.

He didn’t throw it out of nowhere. Yang said he’s been practising this ‘jibe’ steadily in recent years. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s important to practice consistently and get the feel of it. In fact, it’s a dangerous pitch. It’s literally just a slow fastball. If you’re in the middle of the plate or hitters are looking for it, you can get hit with something big. But basically, Yang has a fastball and a variety of pitches to go with it. He’s also a good fielder. So it could work.

“It’s more about adjusting your arm swing than it is about adjusting your power,” said Yoon Seok-min, a KBO Triple Crown veteran and Sportime Baseball expert. “It’s a matter of sensation rather than practice,” he said. “If you take a fastball hard, your body will slowly let go. Yang has a very good changeup. It doesn’t look that good when you’re playing catch, but when hitters see it, it’s really good. That’s why he’s late with his fastball. That’s why it works so well.”

Kim Kwang-hyun (35‧SSG), a left-hander the same age as Yang, is also a living legend in the KBO. When asked about Yang’s ‘fastball,’ Kim said, “I don’t throw a fastball. Instead, I use a slider to change speeds,” he explained. Since returning from the major leagues, Kim hasn’t just stuck to high-speed sliders like he used to. He also throws sliders in the 120km/h range. His slider was so slow that it was once classified as a curveball.

“If you use a slider, hitters can’t get a good look at it,” Yoon said. If they’re looking for a slider and it’s slower than they thought, they’ll see two different pitches. It complicates things for batters,” he explained.

Kim’s slider is perceived as ‘fast’. He can still throw a slider in the mid-to-low 130s when he wants to. Hitters can’t help but notice his fastball-slider combo. He throws a slower slider, and nowadays he mixes in a curveball and a changeup, especially against right-handed batters, which was unthinkable in the past. It’s now a classic “four-pitch” pitch. I’ve also worked a lot on my curveball and changeup.

I used to be able to handle hitters with just my fastball, and I had a lot of power, but that’s not the case anymore. We’re both in our mid-30s now. My fastball velocity has gone down, and it’s still going down. It’s only going to get worse. The inability to hold on to the passing years is something both players have realised recently. When they look at the fastballs of Ahn Woo-jin (Ki) and other junior pitchers, their own pitches may look shabby for the first time in their lives.

But the ball has to be thrown. If you’ve made it through 15 years in the pros with the pattern you’ve been using, you have to make a pattern for the end of your career. This could be a changeup, a fastball, or a new pitch. These are players who would be in the KBO Hall of Fame if they retired right now, but they’re still trying to stay competitive against their younger counterparts. And they are still competitive enough to be called ‘aces’. That’s why we can look forward to seeing them finish off their legendary careers a little further down the line.