It was bad news, to say the least. The homegrown ace, who started the game, was pulled after feeling something in his arm again. He came out after throwing five pitches in the first inning and didn’t have time to warm up, so a second pitcher was brought in. That second pitcher turned in his best performance, pitching six innings and two runs to secure the win. We’re talking about NC left-hander Choi Sung-young (26).
Choi took the mound after Koo Chang-mo against LG in Jamsil on April 2. He was virtually unhittable, retiring six straight batters from Moon Sung-joo in the first inning to Kim Min-sung in the third. He gave up a walk to Kim Ki-yeon, but struck out Park Hae-min and Hong Chang-ki.
They were scoreless until Austin Dean hit a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth. He gave up an RBI single to Oh Ji-Hwan in the bottom 스포츠토토 of the seventh and was done for the day. NC scored five runs in the top of the eighth inning to complete the 9-2 victory over LG. Choi Sung-young was the winning pitcher.
After the game, Choi said there was no special secret to his performance. He said, “My body usually warms up quickly. And since it was summer, it was good to warm up,” he said. “I think my mindset has changed a lot. I used to be greedy for strikes and try not to get hit, and then I gave up a lot of walks. Now I know I’m not a strikeout pitcher, I just throw fastballs to get hits. I tried to conserve my pitches,” he said.
The pitcher is no stranger to starting. He made a total of 36 starts between 2018 and 2020 before joining the military. The left-hander has good command of his pitches and a solid changeup. However, true to his word, he also struck out a lot of batters. In 2020, he struggled with 35 walks to 27 strikeouts.
This season, he’s walked fewer batters. Until today’s game, he had seven walks and 15 strikeouts. In his start against Sasik Lotte on the 24th of last month, he pitched five innings of one-run ball to lead his team to a 3-1 victory, and although he was sent back to the bullpen, he proved his worth as a starter again.
NC’s Choi Sung-young pitches in his first start of the season against Lotte at Sajik Stadium on April 24. Photo courtesy of the NC Dinos
Recalling his two seasons with the Dinos in 2021 and 2022, Choi said, “In the military, I learned that striking out is not always good. Of course, you need to strike out in crunch time. But as a starter, you have to throw long innings. Throwing with the idea of getting hit can lead to good results.”
In 2021, Choi pitched 68.2 innings for the Sangsang with 23 walks and 54 strikeouts. In 2022, he pitched 63.1 innings with 11 walks and 52 strikeouts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio improved dramatically in his second year.
This could be his golden opportunity to start again. If Koo Chang-mo is removed from the roster again, Choi Sung-young will be the No. 1 alternative.
Choi said, “Nothing has been decided yet. Today, I was more focused because I wanted to ease the pressure on Chang-mo. If Chang-mo is left out, I will try to fill in as much as possible. I will throw as hard as the coach decides.”