By Lee Sang-cheol = Kiwoom Heroes ace Ahn Woo-jin, 23, has been removed from the team’s first-team roster for the second time this season due to poor physical condition, putting a hazard light on the KBO’s first 200-strikeout challenge in two consecutive seasons.
Kiwoom removed Ahn from the first-team roster on Sept. 9. The decision came a day after Ahn made a start against the Gocheok Lotte Giants on Aug. 8, allowing one run (unearned) on four hits and four walks with six strikeouts in 5⅔ innings.
Kiwoom had previously skipped a rotation in order to keep his starting pitchers healthy. Ahn Woo-jin had previously been removed from the roster on May 31, giving him 10 days to recharge his batteries.
This time, however, Ahn’s departure was unplanned. Initially, Ahn was scheduled to pitch against the LG Twins in Jamsil on May 13.
Ahn showed “abnormal signs” while pitching against Lotte, such as making uncomfortable movements. His pitches were also shaky and he gave up a season-high four walks.
Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki said, “Ahn Woo-jin was struggling unusually. I saw him throwing a ball I hadn’t seen before and felt strange,” explaining that he decided to skip one rotation to protect the player.
With this exclusion, Ahn won’t be able to return until the 19th against Gocheok Lotte at the earliest. However, if she continues to feel unwell next week, her return could be delayed. With their chances of making the postseason now slim, Kiwoom needs to focus on Ahn’s health for now.
The departure will also affect Ahn’s strikeout record.
With 157 strikeouts, Ahn is currently in sole possession of first place in the strikeout category. The gap between him and second-place Eric Peddy (128 – NC Dinos) is large, so he has a good chance of winning the strikeout title for a second straight year. If Ahn wins the strikeout title for the second year in a row, he will become the third player to do so after Sun Dong-yeol (1988-1991) and Ryu Hyun-jin (2006-2007, 2009-2010).
At the same time, he is also aiming for the all-time record. It will be the second consecutive year that he has struck out 200 batters, something even “legends” like Sun Dong-yeol, Ryu Hyun-jin, and Choi Dong-won have failed to do.
He set a tremendous pace last year, striking out 224 batters, just one short of Ariel Miranda’s record for most strikeouts in a single season in the KBO in 2021 (225).
This year, Ahn has averaged 7.48 strikeouts per game and 1.18 strikeouts per inning, which is a better pace than last year when he averaged 7.47 strikeouts per game and 1.14 strikeouts per inning, respectively.
At this pace, it looked like he would easily reach 200 strikeouts this season, but a breakdown in his power has put a cloud over his head.
Ki had played a total of 105 games until the LG Electronics League on the 11th. With the Gocheok Sky Dome as their home stadium, where they don’t have to worry about rainouts, Kiwoom has played the most games out of the 10 teams and has fewer games remaining. When Ahn does return, you can count on one hand the number of times he’s been on the mound.먹튀검증
Depending on when he returns and how healthy he is, he could reach 200 strikeouts for the second straight year.