From ‘LG Bob’ to ‘LG Killer’…, the 30-something FA who changed everything. “It’s not age that stops evolution, it’s just luck” [Interview].

Samsung Lions’ Paik Jung-hyun (36) won the “nemesis” matchup against LG Twins’ Casey Kelly (34). Won his seventh game of the season with his third straight win. Kelly’s seven-game winning streak for Samsung Electronics was snapped, handing him his seventh loss of the season.

안전놀이터 Baek Jung-hyun started the 15th game of the season against LG at Lions Park in Daegu on Sunday, allowing one run on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in 6⅔ innings to extend his winning streak to three games since July 30 against Gochuk Kiwoom.

He had only four days of rest since the SSG game on July 12 in the sweltering heat, but he took the pressure off the bullpen with a long inning on 90 pitches amid aggressive matchups. The bench was thankful.

After the game, Samsung coach Park Jin-man praised Baek Jung-hyun, saying, “Even though it was his first start in four days, he pitched perfectly and played a key role in the team’s victory.”

Even on a weekday, the home fans who filled the lower bleachers on the third base side of Lions Park gave Baek a standing ovation, chanting “Baek Jeong-hyun~” as he returned to the bench after completing his mission. It was a moment when everyone could see that it was Baek Jung-hyun who was able to win against a strong opponent.

“I had the mindset to throw aggressively, because a lot of times when you have a tough game, you end up giving up a lot of runs because the bases are loaded, so I just wanted to get it out of the way quickly, and then the batters were aggressive, and I think that’s when I got lucky and got in front of the beast, and that’s when it happened.”

Baek mixed a 141-kilometer fastball with a slider, changeup and curveball to take away the LG bats’ timing.

It was LG’s first win in three games since May 12 in Daegu this season. He has a 0.92 ERA with four runs (two earned) in 19⅔ innings. At this point, he can be called the new LG nemesis. It’s a far cry from last year, when he lost three of four LG games and had a 6.75 ERA.

“I was weak last year, but I think I just got a little lucky.”

Even if it is lucky once, it is rarely repeated two or three times. It’s skill and change.

The 2023 KBO League game between the LG Twins and Samsung Lions was held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on July 17. Samsung’s Baek Jung-hyun walks down the mound in the seventh inning. Daegu = Heo Sang-wook 기자[email protected]/2023.08.17/

The game between the LG Twins and Samsung Lions of the 2023 KBO League was held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on Sunday. Samsung’s Baek Jung-hyun catches LG’s Shin Min-jae’s ground ball and throws to first base in the third inning. Daegu=Heo Sang-wook 기자[email protected]/2023.08.17/
After struggling last year in his first year as a free agent, Baek Jung-hyun is back in “back-show mode” this season.

He changed everything for a change.

He changed his ballpark, training methods, mindset, patterns, and diet to become the “All-New Baek Jeong-hyun”.

It’s incurable. Ask anyone. He borrowed a changeup from Won Tae-in, a smart junior, and fitted it. Along with the slider, it is an effective changeup with an opposite trajectory.

“When I have a good pitch, I ask the juniors how to throw it, so I keep making changes. The changeup is something I asked Tae-in two years ago, but it didn’t work well then, but since last year, I’ve been throwing it and it’s been catching. I was sick after the first half and while I was resting, I was researching how to throw the changeup to lefties, so I threw it a little bit in the game, and it seemed to be okay, so I’m using it a lot, and fortunately, the results are good, so I’m increasing the frequency. I’m trying to throw it outside because it’s a little bit burdensome on the left-hander’s body, but my delivery is not smooth, so I think it’s going towards the body.”

The 2023 KBO League game between the LG Twins and the Samsung Lions was held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on July 17. Samsung won 4-2, ending the three-game midweek series with a sweep. Baek Jung-hyun and Kang Min-ho celebrate after the game. Daegu = Heo Sang-wook 기자[email protected]/2023.08.17/
He has also abandoned his two-seam, which was his mainstay last year. Now, he almost exclusively throws a four-seam fastball. I came to this conclusion through a conversation with Kang Min-ho, a two-year senior catcher.

“Since last year, my two-seam wasn’t catching the way I wanted it to, and it was flying out of my hand, so I was getting hit a lot because I wasn’t getting the ball I thought I was getting when I was signing because the movement was good, and then (Kang) Min-ho said, ‘Hey, let’s throw a four-seam this year.’ We talked about that, and I think that’s how I naturally became more fastball-oriented.”

Failure is the foundation of success. Baek is proving this with his hard work. When asked what made him change from last year’s struggles, he replied.

“Last year, my changeup wasn’t good, so I paid more attention to my fastball and worked on it, and now my fastball is naturally improving along with my changeup, so I think it’s a little better than last year.”

His fastball’s top speed, which had been in the low 130s, has increased by three to four mph to reach the low 140s. It’s a change that can’t be ignored as it increases his effectiveness.

He’s been working hard, too.

“Last year, I was lifting weights by myself, but this year, I’m doing it with a trainer by my side, and I can definitely hold my form better and lift heavier than when I was doing it by myself, and it’s working. I’ve been lifting weights consistently and managing my diet consistently, and I’m thinking that eating a little more than usual when it’s hot is leading to good results.”

The 2023 KBO League game between the LG Twins and the Samsung Lions was held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on July 17. Samsung starting pitcher Baek Jeong-hyun is in relief. Daegu = Heo Sang-wook 기자[email protected]/2023.08.17/
The stamina to last nearly seven innings on four days’ rest is also a result of this constant effort.

Throughout the heat wave, Baek Jung-hyun remained healthy. The veteran’s mind control also played a role.

“I’m trying to do it without thinking about it as much as possible, because if I’m conscious of it, I might think, ‘I’m a little tired,’ but then I’ll realize that my mind is shaking, so I tried not to think about it and just do what I’ve always done.”

The veteran lefty maintains his composure no matter what. His seemingly calm demeanor is a testament to the fact that he is constantly striving to improve. A senior pitcher worthy of respect.

The 2023 KBO League game between the LG Twins and Samsung Lions was held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, South Korea, on July 17. Samsung starting pitcher Baek Jeong-hyun is in the game.

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