It has been three years since I turned from catcher to pitcher, and now I have grown to the level of keeping the team starting rotation.
Na Kyun-an (25) starts the season as the fifth starter for the Lotte Giants this season. Dan Straley, Charlie Barnes, Park Se-woong, and Han Hyun-hee were selected as a puzzle to fill the last spot in the Lotte starters. Last season, he threw 117⅔ innings in 39 games and only won 3 wins (8 losses and 2 holds), but Lotte paid attention to the progress made through the off-season-camp.
Na Kyun-an, who wore a Lotte uniform in the 2nd round of the 2017 rookie draft, was expected to be a next-generation catcher, but only slow growth. In the midst of this, his left hand fractured, and after surgery in 2020, he chose the path to become a pitcher. Na Gyun-an, who debuted as a pitcher on the first team stage in the 2021 season, recorded 23 games, 46⅓ innings, 1 win, 2 losses, 1 save, and an average ERA of 6.41. Last year, his earned run average was lowered to 3.98. His success did not follow, but his stable control using fastballs and breaking balls in the second half of 140 km was cited as his strength. 안전놀이터
The KIA Tigers game held on the 27th at Sajik Stadium in Busan. Prior to the game, Lotte coach Larry Sutton announced Na Kyun-an as the fifth starter. Against the KIA lineup, which ranked first in most of the batting indicators last season, Na Kyun-an started the final inspection of the season.
Na Kyun-eun recorded 6 hits (1 home run), 1 walk and 2 strikeouts in 5 innings. 72 total pitches. He recorded a maximum speed of 147km with a fastball, and his curve ball and forkball seemed not bad.
Out of 20 at-bats against Na Kyun-an that day, 16 of them came out in play. The double ground ball hit came out six times. There were 4 ground balls blocked by the infield, and 2 were connected as hits. Considering that it is a common part in terms of ratio, and that out of six hits, only one was a long hit, it can be considered a not bad pitch. However, it is worth considering that most of the in-play hits made by KIA hitters on this day were strong hits that fit the sweet spot. In the previous two demonstration games, Na Kyun-ahn allowed 17 hits (three homers) in 9 innings. He struck out 12 in 14 innings before KIA, but allowed a lot of hits. It can be interpreted as a phenomenon caused by the rapid number of wins that actively attack the strike zone, but the fact that it is not a pitch that can overwhelm the batter is worthy of concern.
Regarding this, Na Kyun-an said, “The results of the previous two games were very bad, but it was not bad in terms of the ball or pitching feel.” In addition, “In the previous game, there were a lot of consecutive hits. Looking back, I tried to catch the batter, so I only put in my strength. There were a lot of balls that were driven by location, and there were a lot of balls that were driven to counts that shouldn’t be hit.” I tried to induce the bat to come out. I wanted to throw my ball where I wanted it, but in that respect, I think I was able to solve it well as I intended.” He said, “I conceded with a home run, but it was a ball that should have been formed higher.
With a lot of effort, he succeeded in converting, and even made the achievement of entering the first team starting lineup. Now, expectations for Na Gyun-an, who has grown to the stage where she can test herself and supplement herself through demonstration games, are growing.