Among the many bullpen arms that have passed through the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization, Koo Seung-min, 33, has left a footprint that is second to none.
For the first time in Lotte franchise history, he topped 20 strikeouts in three consecutive years from 2020 to last year, and last year he set a team single-season record with 26.
With each opponent’s offensive opportunity that Koo erases, Lotte bullpen history is made.
He recorded his 10th strikeout of the season against the Busan NC Dinos on April 23, marking the first time in franchise history that he has recorded double-digit strikeouts in four consecutive years, and reached the final milestone with his strikeout against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes on April 26.
In the eighth inning with a 2-0 lead, Koo Seung-min got off to a shaky start after being hit by a leadoff single from Kim Jun-wan.
After retiring the next two tricky hitters, Kim Hye-sung and Lee Jung-hoo, on outfield fly balls, he seemed to get a breather, but gave up a single to Addison Russell to tie the game two batters later.
Facing Lee with the bases loaded, Seung-min switched to a fastball slider for strikes, then followed it up with three consecutive fastballs around 150 miles per hour to get a swinging strikeout.
After a scoreless first inning, the right-hander picked up his 11th hold of the season and 97th of his career.
He surpassed Lotte first-team bullpen coach Kang Young-sik, who was tied with him with 96 before the game 메이저놀이터.
Koo Seung-min, who joined Lotte in 2013 after graduating from Cheongwon High School and Hongik University, was a mediocre pitcher in his early professional career.
After recording only two losses in the first team by 2015, he began to play baseball in earnest with the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Sangsang).
In 2016, he went 4-4 with three saves and a 3.45 ERA in 11 appearances for the Sangsang, and in 2017, he bombed the Futures (second team) league with a 1-14 record and a 1.51 ERA in 14 appearances.
After returning to Lotte in 2018 following his military service, he quickly accumulated holds and became one of the team’s top bullpen arms.
This season, he has been a key player both on and off the field, as he has taken over the pitching staff.
One of the people most pleased with Koo Seung-min’s record is his coach, Kang Young-sik.
Kang, who started his professional career with the Samsung Lions in 2000 and retired with Lotte in 2017, has 116 career saves, 96 with Lotte alone.
Having spent nearly 20 years as a bullpen pitcher in the first team, he knows the struggles of the pitchers and was happy to see the hard-working Koo Seung-min finally surpass his record.
“I knew I had the most holds in Lotte with 96 because (Koo) Seung-min told me,” Kang said. “Of course, I was waiting for him to surpass me. Congratulations,” he said.
“I’m still young, so I’m sure I’ll make it to 150 or 200 holds (at Lotte),” he said.
This season, Lotte boasts a 100 percent win rate in games that go into the seventh inning, with 23 wins and no losses.
The SSG Landers (21-0), Doosan Bears (16-0), and KIA Tigers (15-0) are other teams with an identical 100% win rate under the same conditions, but Lotte has the most wins.
Koo Seung-min, who is 1-0 with two saves and a 2.91 ERA in 11 appearances, is part of the strongest bullpen in Lotte history, along with Kim Sang-soo (3-1 with a 1.40 ERA in eight appearances) and Kim Won-joong (2-1 with 11 saves and a 2.91 ERA).