Kim Sun-ki proves he can ‘go the distance’ and will be in the starting lineup in 2024

Kiwoom Heroes right-hander Kim Sun-ki (32) has secured a spot in the starting lineup for next season (2024).

바카라Kim started the 2023 KBO League home game against the Samsung Lions at the Gocheok SkyDome in Seoul on Tuesday and pitched well, allowing no runs on four hits and two walks over five innings. Coming off the mound with a 3-0 lead, he had all the makings of a winning pitcher, but the bullpen fire was not to be. Kiwoom led until the middle of the game.

Kim worked out of a jam in the top of the first inning. With the bases loaded, he faced back-to-back singles from Samsung’s second baseman Kim Sung-yoon and third baseman Koo Ja-uk, but he induced a grounder to Kang Min-ho, the fourth baseman, and made an accurate throw to second base to get the runner at first. The shortstop made a smooth throw to first base to end the inning without a run.

In the second inning, the team showed its crisis management skills. A leadoff single to Jose Pirela, a walk to Ryu Ji-hyuk, and a sacrifice bunt to Kim Hyun-joon put runners on first and second, but Lee Jae-hyun got the second out with a grounder to the pitcher. The first baseman threw home Pirela, who had rushed home unnecessarily, for the second out.

After recording his first three-hit shutout of the game in the third inning, Kim continued his momentum in the fourth, retiring Samsung’s cleanup trio of Koo Ja-ook, Kang Min-ho, and Pirella in order.

Kiwoom scored one run in the bottom of the inning on an infield error and two more in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Kim Hye-sung to take a 3-0 lead. Kim gave up a walk to Lee Jae-hyun two batters later in the fifth, but got Kim Ho-jae to fly out to right field for the win.

Kim gave up a leadoff single to Kim Ji-chan in the top of the sixth inning, when Kiwoom took a 3-0 lead, before handing the mound over to reliever Kim Jae-woong to finish the job. Kiwoom tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the eighth inning when reliever Ha Young-min struggled and gave up two runs on a throwing error by catcher Kim Dong-heon. Kim’s start was ruined.

Kiwoom regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth on Lim Ji-yeol’s two-run homer and eventually won 5-3. Although he didn’t get the win, Kim’s pitching helped his team win the game.

In late August, Kim filled the void left by the departure of Kiwoom’s starting pitching staff due to transfers and injuries. He started seven games in a row, from August 22 against the Doosan Bears to today’s game against Samsung Electronics. He failed to complete five innings twice and gave up more than five runs twice. But overall, he performed his starting duties well.

Kiwoom needs to reorganize its starting lineup. Choi Won-tae has been moved to LG, and ace Ahn Woo-jin will not pitch until the first half of the 2024 season after undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction surgery. While pitchers in their first through fourth years, including Lee Myung-jong, Joo Seung-woo, and Lee Jong-min, are taking turns in the “starting showcase,” Kim has been the most consistent in the starting rotation. He has averaged four and two-thirds innings per start with no walks before the third inning.

The team’s top prospect, Jang Jae-young, is expected to be given consistent opportunities in 2024. Kim Sun-ki, who posted an 11-to-1 ERA in 11 relief appearances in 2023, is more suited to a starting role. He also pitched well in his final appearance of the season.

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