For his third major league start, St. Louis Cardinals' left-hander Kim Kwang-hyun will look to pitch as many innings as he can, using as few pitches as he can.
The South Korean pitcher will take the mound in the first game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Thursday (local time). In a Zoom call with local media on the eve of his start, Kim said he's been told by his coaching staff that he should throw around 100 pitches.
He made 57 pitches in his first career start on Aug. 17, going 3 2/3 innings against the Chicago Cubs. Kim then had 83 pitches over six shutout innings to capture his first major league win over the Cincinnati Reds last Saturday.
"I'll try to be efficient and eat up as many innings as possible," Kim said. "Since it'll be the first game of a doubleheader, I'll try to save our bullpen."
During the truncated, 60-game season, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, major league teams play only seven innings for doubleheaders.
Kim's first major league start also came in the first game of a doubleheader versus the Cubs. He and other St. Louis starters had been kept on a pitch count then, since their team was just returning to action after a two-week layoff following a COVID-19 outbreak within the team. The shackles are off, and Kim could have his first major league complete game.
"I hope I can make quick work (of the Pirates) like my last start," Kim said, referring to the Reds game that only took two hours and 15 minutes. "Just watching some of my teammates play 14 innings (against the Cubs) was tough."
Kim said he received a lot of congratulatory messages after his first victory, and he spent the ensuing days on cloud nine.
"I'll try to keep those good vibes going and concentrate hard on every game," Kim said. "I know this is not a full season, but I still want to help the team reach the postseason."
Kim will be facing the Pirates for the second time. He began the season as the closer and picked up his first save against the Pirates on Opening Day on July 24. It didn't come easy though as he gave up two runs -- one unearned -- on two hits in the ninth inning and barely preserved a 5-4 victory.
"I pitched out of the bullpen at the time, and I ran into a lot of trouble," said Kim, who allowed the first three Pittsburgh batters to reach base before finishing the game with a lineout and a double play ball. "I'll be the starter this time, and I think it will be different."
Kim said his family has been watching his games in South Korea, with most of his games falling in the early morning hours here. The next game will begin at 4:15 a.m. Friday, which Kim said will make it tougher than usual for his loved ones to tune in live.
"Hopefully, they'll wake up in the morning to some good news from this end," Kim said. (Yonhap)