No. 1 starting ERA in Korea, but second-fewest run support…’Ankrai’ Ahn Woo-jin to lead Kiwoom out of 7-game losing streak

Kiwoom Heroes “ace” Ahn Woo-jin, 24, will look to rescue his team from a seven-game losing streak.

Kiwoom has named Ahn Woo-jin as 메이저사이트 its starting pitcher for the first game of the second half of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Lotte Giants at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on April 21. Lotte will counter with foreign pitcher Charlie Barnes.

After winning the Golden Glove last year, Ahn is arguably the best ace in the KBO, and he’s been a consistent performer this year as Kiwoom’s No. 1 starter. With a 6-5 record and a 2.44 ERA in 17 appearances in the first half of the season, Ahn ranked fourth in the league in ERA and first among Korean pitchers. He also ranked first in strikeouts (130) and third in walks allowed per inning (WHIP, 1.05).

Despite these accomplishments, the six wins in the first half of the season is a disappointing result for both Ahn and Ki. This season, Ahn has the second-best run support minimum (3.45) behind teammate Ariel Hurtado (3.29). Last year (3.54, 2nd best), she still managed to win 10 games in the first half and 15 games in the season despite the lack of scoring support, but this year, the lack of scoring support is even worse.

Ahn Woo-jin’s shoulders were even heavier when he made his first appearance in the second half. Before the end of the first half, Kiwoom lost Won Jong-hyun, their 2.5 billion won free agent bullpen, for the season, and Lim Ji-yeol and Shin Jun-woo in the batting order. On top of that, Edison Russell, who was still second on the team in RBIs (42) despite his injury absence, was sent down rather than returning. New foreign batsman Ronnie Dawson will join the lineup against Lotte on the 21st, but it’s unclear if he’ll be able to contribute immediately.

Amidst all the bad news, Ahn Woo-jin was tasked with rescuing Kiwoom, who have lost seven straight games and dropped to ninth place. He threw a career-high 120 pitches in his last start of the first half, but the All-Star break gave him plenty of time to recover. After throwing 13 pitches in the first inning of the 15th All-Star Game, Ahn confirmed that he was in good shape by throwing a fastball up to 158.8 km/h (per Trackman).

Their opponent in the first game of the second half, No. 5 Lotte, is coming off a tough loss to the NC Dinos in the final two games of the first half. However, while starter Charlie Barnes has been inconsistent this season, his two starts against Kiwoom have resulted in one win and a 1.80 ERA (10 innings, 2 runs, 2 earned). It will be interesting to see if Ahn Woo-jin can avoid becoming an “Ankrai” in his first start of the second half and save his team from a losing streak.

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