Among the many bullpen pitchers who 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’s history, he surpassed 20 saves in three consecutive years from 2020 to last year, and last year he set a team single-season record with 26 saves.
With each opponent’s offensive opportunity that Koo Seung-min erases, Lotte bullpen history is made.
On the 23rd, he recorded his 10th strikeout of the season against the Busan NC Dinos, marking the first time in franchise history that he has recorded double-digit strikeouts in four consecutive years, and on the 26th, he reached the final milestone of the season against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes.스포츠토토
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.
He retired the next two tricky batters, Kim Hye-sung and Lee Jung-hoo, on infield singles, but gave up a walk to Addison Russell to load the bases with two outs.
Facing Lee with the bases loaded, Koo turned to her primary weapon, a slider, for strikes, and then fired three consecutive fastballs in the low 90s for swinging strikes.
After a scoreless first inning, the right-hander picked up his 11th hold of the season and 97th of his career.
He surpassed Lotte’s first-team bullpen coach Kang Young-sik, who was tied with 96 prior to the game.
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 until 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 leading bullpen arms.
This season, he has been a key player both on and off the field, even taking over the role of pitching coach.
The person most pleased with Koo’s record is his coach, Kang Young-sik.
Kang, who started his professional career with the Samsung Lions in 2000 and retired from Lotte in 2017, has 116 career saves, 96 with Lotte.
Having spent nearly 20 years as a bullpen pitcher in the first team, Kang knows the struggles of the pitchers, and he 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 per cent win rate with 23 wins and no losses in games that went into the seventh inning.
The SSG Landers (21-0), Doosan Bears (16-0) and KIA Tigers (15-0) are other teams with an identical 100 per cent 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, along with Kim Sang-soo (3-1 with one save and a 1.40 ERA in eight appearances) and Kim Won-joong (2-1 with 11 saves and a 2.91 ERA), form the strongest bullpen in Lotte history.