Koo Chang-mo (NC) and Lee Yi-ri (KIA). The two players who are considered to be the rightful successors to Kwang Hyun-jong were eliminated from the national team a day apart. One of the stages where they could prove themselves as Kwang’s heirs is gone.
There is no denying that Koo Chang-mo and Lee Yi-ri are two of the best left-handed aces in the KBO. Kwang Hyeon-jong has been bouncing between club and national teams for years since 2007, and he’s pitched well. With Kim Kwang-hyun and Yang Hyun-jong now naturally moving away from the national team, the stage is set for Koo Chang-mo and Lee Yi-ri to be tested.
They have a long way to go. Koo signed a multi-year, non-free agent contract with NC last winter. It was worth up to $12.5 billion over seven years or $13.2 billion over 6+1 years. When healthy, there’s no question that Koo is one of the best lefties in the league. His fastball and changeup are almost identical in form, and he combines velocity with precise command. The problem is, he can’t do it consistently or for long.
His lack of durability also cost him a spot on the national team at the Hangzhou Asian Games. He plans to fulfill the latter part of his contract. After rehabbing from a forearm injury for more than three months, he returned to the bullpen for the second team in a hurry and logged 145 kilometers. However, there is no guarantee that he will be able to pitch out of the bullpen in international competitions. Crucially, he will not be able to start.
Koo’s international record is abysmal. In 2017, he appeared in two games at the APBC, giving up two runs on two hits (one home run) in 1 1/3 innings with one strikeout. In the 2023 WBC, he pitched 1⅓ innings in two games, allowing two runs on three hits with one walk and one strikeout. In total, he pitched 2⅔ innings in four games with four earned runs and a 13.50 ERA.
Lee had a solid sophomore and junior seasons after tripping over his ankle on the dugout steps in his rookie season, which resulted in a season-ending injury. He won 10 games for the second straight year and was a steady fixture in the rotation without any major injuries. He did have a few blister issues this year and missed a start with a shoulder issue. Still, he managed to play 24 games healthy.
He’s also gaining international experience. In two games at the Tokyo Olympics, he took one loss, allowing nine hits (two home runs) in 10 innings, striking out 18, walking four and giving up five earned runs. In the WBC, he was less impressive, pitching ⅓ of an inning with one strikeout and three walks. In three international games, he is 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 10 1/3 innings. 토토사이트
Kim Kwang-hyun and Yang Hyun-jong didn’t fare well at the WBC either, but they should be recognized for their contributions in 17 and 11 games, respectively, in their nearly 15-year international careers. They have shown that they can pitch at the international level, and there was a time when they seriously challenged for the U.S. team.