SPORTS

Korean left-hander chasing multiple records

By a2016032
  • Published : May 10, 2017 - 11:53
  • Updated : May 10, 2017 - 11:53

After winning yet another start on Tuesday, Kia Tigers' left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong is in hot pursuit of multiple pitching records in South Korean baseball.

Yang improved to 7-0 in the 2017 Korea Baseball Organization season after holding the KT Wiz to three runs over six innings of work in the Tigers' 9-4 victory.

Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers throws a pitch against the Nexen Heroes in their Korea Baseball Organization game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on May 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

Yang, 29, is leading the league in wins. He's also among the leaders in other major categories -- second in strikeouts (45), third in innings pitched (47 1/3) and third in ERA (1.90).

He's one win away from matching the KBO record for most consecutive victories to start a season. In 1986, left-hander Kim Il-yoong won his first eight starts of the season for the Samsung Lions.

Yang's next scheduled start will be against the SK Wyverns on Sunday.

Another KBO pitcher is chasing Kim's mark this season. Former Cleveland Indians pitcher Jeff Manship, now starting for the NC Dinos, has gone 6-0 to open the 2017 season.

Dating back to last season, Yang has won eight straight starts and also eight straight decisions.

The league record for the most consecutive wins by a starter is 21, by Chung Min-tae of the Hyundai Unicorns from 2000 to 2003.

Yang's career-high is 10, during the 2010 season.

Andy Van Hekken of the Nexen Heroes holds the league record by winning 14 straight decisions in a three-month span in 2014.

Yang could also become the fastest pitcher to reach 10 wins in a season. Kim Il-yoong has that record, having reached the double figures in 12 games in 1985.

If nothing else, Yang could establish a career-high in wins this year. He won 16 games in 2010 and again in 2014. Yang has averaged just about 30 starts a season over the past three years and, barring injuries, he could make about 23 more starts in 2017.

Winning 10 of those starts will be enough. If Yang picks up 13 more wins the rest of the year, he will then become the first South Korean pitcher to win at least 20 games in a season since Chung in 1999. Chung had one relief win. The last South Korean to record 20 wins in starts was Lee Sang-hoon with the LG Twins in 1995.

Thanks in no small part to superior pitching by Yang and other starters, the Tigers are sitting pretty at the top of the standings with a 23-9 record. With Yang, Hector Noesi (1.99) and Im Gi-yeong (1.99), the Tigers are the only club to boast three starters with a sub-2.00 ERA this season.

The three have combined for 17 wins. Yang alone has one more victory than the last-place Lions, who are 6-24-2 (wins-losses-ties). (Yonhap)