CHANGWON, South Korea - Kim Young-kyu, a 23-year-old left-hander for the NC Dinos, has quickly become a key figure in the team's bullpen throughout the Korea Baseball Organization postseason.
According to a news release by Yonhap News Agency, Kim contributed 1 1/3 shutout innings in Wednesday's 7-6 victory over the SSG Landers, helping the Dinos complete a three-game sweep in the first round. Over the span of all three games, Kim amassed 3 2/3 scoreless innings, which garnered him the MVP title for the series.
Kim's role has evolved to such a point that he is now the go-to reliever for the Dinos when they hold a late lead. However, his skills were tested on Wednesday when he was called in at short notice during the fifth inning. His predecessor, Lee Jae-hak, had to exit the game due to a line-drive injury to his right hand.
The stakes were high as Kim took the mound with the Dinos clinging to a one-run lead and a tying run on second base. Despite the pressure, Kim was able to retire Lee Jae-won, getting him to fly out to center and neutralize the immediate threat.
In the subsequent sixth inning, Kim found himself pitted against the top of the Landers' batting order. He managed to contain the opponents effectively, even when facing Choi Jeong, who had already hit a grand slam earlier in the game.
The Dinos completed their series sweep without significant input from their regular-season Triple Crown winner, Erick Fedde, who is currently recovering from a right forearm injury. As a result, more responsibility fell on the shoulders of the bullpen, and Kim proved to be both durable and effective.
Prior to the postseason, Kim had enjoyed his best regular season yet, recording a career-high 24 holds and a 3.06 ERA across 61 2/3 innings. His excellent form has evidently carried over into the postseason, providing the Dinos with the dependable relief option they needed.