Saturday, 30th September 2023

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Ham Deok-ju’s ‘Song of Resurrection’, ‘FA Jackpot’ Seen

The biggest keys to the LG Twins’ dominance in the 2023 KBO are the league’s strongest offense and strong bullpen. In particular, the LG bullpen has no cracks this season, despite the fact that the trio of Jeong Woo-young, Jeong Jung-yong, and Go Woo-seok has struggled compared to last year. This is because LG’s bullpen has a deep roster.메이저놀이터

The most prominent of these is left-hander Ham Deok-ju, an 11-year pro. After struggling with injuries and inconsistency while his counterpart Yang Suk-hwan of the Doosan Bears was on a tear after being traded in 2021, Ham has bounced back perfectly this season. Since May, he’s been far more dominant than the national team duo of Jung Woo-young and Woo-seok.

The numbers bear this out. In 24 games since May, Ham Deok-ju has only allowed one earned run, on June 28 against SSG Landers. If you take that game out of the equation, he pitched a flawless two-month stretch from May 2 to July 2.

When you break down his stats during this time, it’s staggering. In the 24 games he’s pitched since May, he’s thrown 26 innings, with a 0.102 FIP (on-base percentage + slugging percentage), 0.316 WHIP (walks allowed per inning), and 0.26 ERA during that time. This is why he’s been dubbed the “innings eraser” lately.

Ham’s dominance has allowed LG to utilize its other pitchers more freely. Rookie Park Myung-geun, who replaced Lee Jeong-yong as a set-up man, can now be used in the third inning. The difference between the LG bullpen and last year’s is that the presence of Ham Deok-ju has become incomparably greater.

His value as a prospective free agent is skyrocketing as he is performing beyond his prime. With a salary of 100 million won in 2023, Ham Deok-ju will be classified as a Class C free agent after the season, meaning he won’t need compensation. If he maintains his current trend, expect a stifling bidding war as this is the best opportunity to acquire a top-notch bullpen arm in his late 20s without breaking the bank.

Proven left-handed bullpen arms are always in demand, let alone one with the closing experience of Hamdeok-ju. It’s not just three or four teams that will be interested in free agent Ham Deok-ju, it could very well be all 10 teams.

Since being traded to LG three years ago, Ham has had a tough time compared to his time with Doosan due to injuries and poor performance. With his resurgence over the past two years, will he be able to win the LG title and hit the free agency jackpot? If the current trend continues, he could be the biggest name in free agency after the season ends.

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