4396. This is the number of pitches pitcher Hong Geon-hee (31) threw while wearing the Doosan Bears uniform for four years from 2020 to this year.
After being drafted by the KIA Tigers in 2011, Hong Kun-hee spent nearly 10 years as a prospect, but reached a turning point in his baseball life when he was traded to Doosan during the 2020 season. Doosan wanted Pil Seung-jo, who could throw a fastball exceeding 150 km per hour, and Hong Geon-hee was locked in a certain position and was desperate for a chance to get on the mound. As a result of the good chemistry between Doosan and Hong Kun-hee, it led to a successful trade, and in the process, Hong Kun-hee threw a whopping 4,396 pitches. Ranked 5th in the team during that period. He ranks first as a pure bullpen pitcher.
If you look at the top ranks among Doosan pitchers with the most pitches in the past four seasons, most of them are starting pitchers. 1st place is Choi Won-jun (9,343 pitches, 554 innings), 2nd place is Kwak Bin (6,671 pitches, 373 ⅔ innings), 3rd place is Lee Young-ha (6,193 pitches, 348 ⅔ innings), and 4th place is Raul Alcantara (6,132 pitches, 390 ⅔ innings). Choi Won-jun and Lee Young-ha played as bullpens in some games, but their main role was as a starting pitcher. Hong Geon-hee threw as many balls as a starting pitcher without appearing in a single game as a starter during that period. This is a part where you can get a glimpse of his contribution on the mound.
Starting in 2021, the second year of his transfer, he served as pitcher assistant. And he led the pitcher group for three seasons until this year. Hong Geon-hee was the right age to take on the role of team leader, but it was possible because he was the leader his juniors wanted. His dedicating attitude on the mound was as good as his personality throughout the team, which earned him a very good evaluation among Doosan officials.
This year, he wanted to contribute more to the team’s victory by serving as the closing pitcher from the opening game. This was after taking on the closing position during the 2022 season and building confidence by making 18 saves. In the past, he was often shaken in close games and was evaluated as not having a strong heart, but as he continued to achieve good results at Doosan and believed in his own ball, his ups and downs decreased. As he set a career high with 22 saves this year, it was predicted that his stock price would increase in the upcoming winter free agent market.
Regarding this at the time, Hong Geon-hee said, “It’s a new personal save record, and of course I feel good. We’re only halfway through the season, and I need to build up a good record until the end. I’m so excited about that record that I’m trying to calm myself down for fear of letting my guard down. Until the end of the season. “I want to do well and be liked then,” he said calmly.
However, Hong Geon-hee eventually showed his physical limitations. It is not easy for a bullpen pitcher to consistently remain a sure-win team for more than 3-4 years. This is because fatigue cannot be avoided. Hong Geon-hee showed signs of a noticeable abnormality around the summer, and he was eventually put down to his final position in mid-August. This is because his earned run average soared to 7.45 in 12 games in August. Still, he seemed to be finding stability after September, recording an average ERA of 1.88 in 14 games, perhaps because he had let go of the burden.
With Doosan ranked 5th and entering the last fall baseball season, Hong Geon-hee got the opportunity to contribute to the team once more. Doosan played the first game of the wild card decision against NC Dinos at Changwon NC Park on the 19th. NC, the 4th place team, had the advantage of one win, so Doosan would have been eliminated even if it suffered just one loss. They had to win the first game, and to do so, it was important that the winning team, including starting pitcher Kwak Bin, Kim Myung-shin, Jeong Cheol-won, Kim Kang-ryul, Hong Geon-hee, and Park Chi-guk, hold up well.
But all the pitchers I trusted fell apart. As Kwak Bin was kicked after giving up 5 runs in 3⅔ innings, Kim Myung-shin was forced to pitch from the 4th inning. In the bottom of the 7th inning, when the team was down 5-6, both Kim Kang-ryul and Jeong Cheol-won were brought in, allowing 2 runs, and the mound management calculation was messed up again. Still, Doosan entered the bottom of the 8th inning, trailing 6-8. Hong Geon-hee appeared here.
Hong Geon-hee collapsed, unable to bear the pressure of being eliminated after one loss. He managed to get leadoff hitter Son A-seop back by striking out a missed swing, but Park Min-woo hit an infield hit to the left of second base, and Park Geon-woo was sent out on a base of baseball, causing a major shakeup. During Jason Martin’s next at-bat, Park Min-woo stole third base and shook Hong Geon-hee, and when Martin retired with a grounder to second base, Park Min-woo scored to make it 6-9.
Perhaps because he conceded a goal in a situation where he had to stop it, Hong Kun-hee was unable to maintain his balance after that. In the ensuing crisis with 2 outs and runners on second base, Kim Seong-wook was sent out with a straight walk. NC put more pressure on Hong Geon-hee by changing the situation to 2 outs and 2nd and 3rd bases with a double stolen base, and Kim Joo-won hit a timely hit with 2 RBIs that passed the shortstop’s height, bringing the score to 6-11. Then, a hit by Seo Ho-cheol continued the crisis with 2 outs and runners on 2, and a 3-run home run to the left by Kim Hyeong-jun brought the score to 6-14. 6 runs allowed in ⅔ innings. It was no exaggeration to say that this was the worst report card that Hong Kun-hee had received since moving to Doosan. After Hong Geon-hee messed up what could possibly be his last appearance for Doosan, he lowered his head and handed the ball to Lee Byung-hun.먹튀검증
Doosan’s batting line chased down 3 more runs in the top of the 9th inning and lost 9-14. If Hong Geon-hee had held on without giving up 6 runs, Doosan might have had another opportunity to play fall baseball on the 20th. Although it is a painful result, we cannot blindly throw stones at Hong Geon-hee. It’s just a pity because everyone knows the dedication Hong Kun-hee showed while wearing the Doosan uniform.