It took him a whopping 1844 days to add another win after 129, but once he regained his confidence, the next one was easier.
Doosan Bears’ Jang Won-jun (38) pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball with two walks and three strikeouts against the Hanwha Eagles in their 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on March 6.
It was his first start in 1899 days since a win over the Samsung Lions on March 25, 2018. It was a big boost for manager Lee Seung-yeop, who had been worried about the holes in his rotation.
Jang Won-jun, Doosan’s leading pitcher in his prime, has been on a downward spiral since 2017 and even considered retirement ahead of this season, but Lee reached out to him. He bounced back and made changes, such as adding a two-seam fastball, in an effort to stay alive.
On March 23, the 129-win pitcher made his first start in 958 days and picked up a valuable win. He became the 11th pitcher in KBO history to win 130 games. With holes in the starting lineup, he pitched beyond expectations to help his team win.
However, he was subsequently designated for assignment again. All the spots in the rotation had been filled. Jang waited another 10 days for his chance. With Dylan Pyle back from injury, Kwak Bin out again, and Choi Won-jun demoted to the Futures (second team) due to poor pitching, there were three holes in the starting rotation.
After giving up a walk to Jung Eun-won in the first inning, Jang got out of the jam by retiring Chae Eun-sung on a wild pitch. She recorded three strikeouts on the day, all of which were inning-ending groundouts with the bases loaded. In the second inning, he struck out Jang Jin-hyeok with runners on second and first, and in the fourth, he got Jang Jin-hyeok to ground into a double play with runners on first and second before giving up three pitches to Lee Jin-young for a swinging strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth inning, he threw a changeup to Chae Eun-sung with runners on second and third for a swinging strikeout.
After throwing 85 pitches, Jang Won-jun took the mound in the sixth inning. He pitched cleanly, but there were concerns after throwing only 70 pitches in his last game. The decision was made to put as little pressure on the bullpen as possible, as alternate starter Park Shin-ji will be needed for Game 7. Kim In-hwan flied out to right field before handing the ball over to Park Chi-kook to finish the job.
With his 131st win, Jang Won-jun moved into fifth place on the career wins list with 129, just behind Lotte Giants coach Bae Young-soo (131). “I wanted to win 130 games in the first game, and now I have no regrets,” Jang said, “so I think I can enjoy it a little bit more.”
He threw 88 pitches, topping out at 138 mph, but was so confident that he scattered nearly half of them for 43 runs. This was thanks to the two-seam fastball he was fitted with before the season. Again, only one of his fastballs was a four-seam fastball, and 42 of his pitches were two-seam. Two of his three strikeouts were also two-seamers. His slider (26 pitches), changeup (15 pitches), and curveball (4 pitches) added to the mix.
When asked about the two-seam, Yang said, “He said it curves in well, so it’s good for right-handed hitters.” “When I throw it, you don’t see it curve. It looks like it’s going straight, so I try to control it more.”
Manager Lee Seung-yeop also commented, “Our starter, Jang Won-jun, pitched his best game in two consecutive games in a difficult situation. He proved the value of a veteran with his seasoned pitching.”
He pitched better than in the previous game (4 runs in 5 innings) despite the same win. “I was able to keep the runs to a minimum, which was more helpful for the team. I’m personally satisfied that I was able to help out because the starting lineup is not doing well.”메이저놀이터
However, it’s hard to say that he’s secured a spot in the starting rotation just yet. Kwak Bin is scheduled to start on the 11th, and we’ll have to wait and see how Park Shin-ji pitches on the 7th. Jang Won-jun is expected to remain calm and wait for his chance to return.