But for starting pitchers, 20 is still a nice round number that represents overall excellence, consistency and durability -- not to mention a little bit of luck.
This season in the Korea Baseball Organization, Yang Hyeon-jong is the only starter with a chance of reaching 20 wins.
The 29-year-old left-hander picked up his 19th win of the season Tuesday, after tossing seven shutout innings against the LG Twins. The Tigers went on to win the game 6-0 and take sole possession of first place.
Yang, at 19-6 for the season, moved one win ahead of teammate Hector Noesi.
|Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers throws a pitch against the LG Twins in his club`s Korea Baseball Organization game at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on Sept. 26, 2017. (Yonhap)|
The Tigers have five games remaining this season. Yang could make one final start during the team’s last three-game series against KT Wiz from Oct. 1 to 3.
Yang has gone 3-0 in three starts against the Wiz this season, with a 4.50 ERA.
And if Yang beats them again, he will join select company.
In the KBO’s 35-year history, only 13 pitchers have won 20 or more games. Jang Myeong-bu still owns the single-season record with 30 wins in 1983. Former Haitai Tigers ace Sun Dong-yol has won 20 or more games in a record three different seasons.
Of the 13, eight pitchers have reached the 20-win plateau as starters.
Since the turn of the millennium, no Korean pitcher has won 20 games. Daniel Rios in 2007 (22 wins), Andy Van Hekken in 2014 (20 wins) and Dustin Nippert in 2016 (22 wins, one in relief) have joined the club in the meantime.
The last homegrown pitcher to win 20 was Lee Sang-hoon, who went 20-5 with the LG Twins in 1995.
Yang is chasing another elusive, if somewhat obscure, record. He has a chance to become the first pitcher to lead the KBO in wins without hitting a batter.
This season, he’s the only pitcher who has thrown at least 50 innings without striking a batsman.
Yang is second in the league with 187 2/3 innings pitched across 30 starts.
In 2000, Chung Min-tae, then-right-hander for the Hyundai Unicorns, tied for the KBO lead with 18 wins while hitting just one batter in 207 innings. (Yonhap)