“I struggled in the first half because of my curveball and slider”
LG Twins right-hander Casey Kelly earned his seventh win of the season after throwing 101 pitches in seven innings, striking out eight, walking three and giving up two runs (two earned) in the eighth game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.
Kelly previously played in the KBO with the LG prior to the 2019 season. In his rookie season, Kelly quickly established himself as the “ace” with a 14-12 record and 2.55 ERA in 29 appearances, and continued his steady play the following year with a 15-7 record and 3.32 ERA in 28 games. Kelly went 13-8 with a 3.15 ERA in 2021 and had a “career-high” season last year, going 16-4 with a 2.54 ERA.
With a whopping 58 wins, including four consecutive years of double-digit victories, Kelly looked to be on track to continue his run with LG this year. However, once the regular season began, Kelly looked a little different than we’ve come to know her. Kelly went 1-2 with a 5.66 ERA in six starts in April, including a 5⅓-inning, six-run debacle against the KT Wiz in his first start of the season.
Amidst the concerns, Kelly didn’t go down without a fight. Kelly seemed to rebound in May, going 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA in five starts, including three consecutive Quality Starts+ (seven innings or less) and two more Quality Starts (six innings or less). In June, however, he was unable to accumulate wins due to a combination of bad luck and lack of support from his offense.
The disappointing form continued into his first start of the second half. Kelly suffered his sixth loss of the season on July 21 against the SSG Landers, giving up five runs (five earned) on six hits (one home run) with two walks and four strikeouts in five innings. Kelly’s repeated inconsistency has led to some debate among LG fans about his replacement.
For now, Kelly allayed fears by tasting victory for the first time in 53 days against Doosan on Nov. 28. As important as the win was, it was more about the pitching. Kelly shut down the Doosan bats with a mix of two-seamers (19), sliders (19), and changeups (5), led by a fastball (29) that topped out at 150 mph and averaged 147 mph and his signature curve (29).
Kelly totaled three strikeouts in his seven innings of work. She worked out of a jam in the first inning with runners on first and second to minimize the damage to one run, and then worked out of a jam with runners on first and second in the fourth. In the seventh inning, a series of unfortunate defensive plays that weren’t recorded as errors led to a less-than-flawless trip down the mound, but it certainly resembled the pitching of an ‘ace’.
In the meantime, Kelida has been trying to find a breakthrough, meeting with manager Yoon Kyung-yup and general manager Cha Myung-seok to get out of his slump. “I thought that believing in myself was the most important thing and the first solution. “When I look back at last season, it’s true that the season didn’t go the way I wanted it to, but I think I can only do what I’ve been doing and prepare well for the next game,” he said.
What went wrong. “I’ve been thinking about it, and I think it’s more of a mental thing than a technical thing, so I’m just trying to work on my mindset and try to get through it and get over it. The most important thing is to believe in myself, and I don’t think there’s any other way to do that except to throw the best I can.”
There were also issues with his changeup. “What I struggled with in the first half was my curveball and slider. I struggled because I wasn’t throwing them for strikes when I needed to, and I wasn’t getting good swings on them. I worked on my curveball and slider during the All-Star break, and now that I’ve made some adjustments, I’m getting better,” he said. “I think there are two things you need to do to do well in the second half of the year: induce swings and misses with your slider and curveball, or throw strikes,” he analyzed.
The bottom line is that he needs to believe in himself and pay more attention to his changeup. “The bottom line is how do I execute my game plan the way I want to. I think I need to execute my pitches the way I want to and focus a little bit more on what I’m throwing in order to be a little bit better in the second half.”
While there has been a lot of talk about replacing the struggling Kelly, head coach Yeom Kyung-yup and general manager Cha Myung-seok still have faith in the long-haired ace. “I had a small meeting with the director and general manager, and they always support me. I’m grateful for their unwavering trust,” he said, adding, “Do what you can, and you’ll be fine.
During his five years in the KBO, Kelly has seen many situations where foreign players have been replaced. “I think baseball is a business, too. From a team’s perspective, if they need to replace a foreign player in order to move the team in a direction where they can win, they have to do it. Even though I’ve been playing in the KBO for five years now, I’m most grateful to be here at LG, throwing the ball in a great ballpark with great teammates. I am grateful for that,” he said emphatically.온라인카지노
After four years of struggling with a “stomach bug,” will the 28th be the perfect opportunity for Kelly to bounce back in the second half of the season? If Kelly can regain his form, LG will be one step closer to winning the Korean Series.