SSG Landers’ batters were caught flat-footed. Lee Jae-hak is back in full ‘ace mode’.
NC Dinos pitcher Lee Jae-hak had another strong outing. On Tuesday, Lee started the home game against SSG at NC Park in Changwon and pitched seven innings of two-hit ball with nine strikeouts and two walks. The SSG batters were unable to capitalize on Lee’s pitches. With two outs in the first inning, Guillermo Heredia doubled, but Choi struck out Joo-hwan on three pitches. In the second, he retired Ha Jae-hoon, Jeon Jeon-san, and Jeong Jeong-beom, and in the third, he struck out the first batter, Choi Kyung-mo, to retire four straight batters. They continued the flow.
They even got out of a jam in the fourth inning. Lee Jae-hak singled, walked Heredia, and gave up another walk to Ha Jae-hoon with one out. His pitches were suddenly shaky, but he put out the fire by striking out Jeon Ui-san and getting Lee Jung-bum to fly out to center field. After getting over the big hump, Lee continued to pitch well. He retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings. By the sixth inning, he had thrown only 90 pitches.
Lee stayed on the mound for the seventh inning. It was his longest inning of the season. Ha Jae-hoon and Jeon Eui-san hit back-to-back singles to get two outs quickly, and Lee Jung-bum grounded out. Another triple play. With the batters providing solid run support, Lee picked up his second win of the season.
It was his fourth straight quality start. Lee started the season a little late due to a delayed free agent signing, but he’s been on fire since his return. He pitched 6 innings of no-hit ball in his comeback against Samsung on May 21, 6 innings of 3 runs (2 earned) against Hanwha on May 27, and 6 innings of 1 run (unearned) against LG Electronics on June 4, and then had his best performance in all four games against SSG. Lee’s performance has been the driving force behind the NC’s recent run of successive victories over top-ranked teams.
Lee Jae-hak has been NC’s “original domestic ace,” having won 10 games in four consecutive years in the past, but in recent years, he has been plagued by injuries and poor performances. Last year, he appeared in 26 games, but only went 3-8 with a 4.75 ERA.
This year, however, the signs are different. First, his velocity has increased compared to when he was out of form. Against the SSG, Lee topped out at 146 mph on his fastball. With his fastball in the mid-140s, he was hard to hit. His strike-to-ball ratio was ideal at 2:1.안전놀이터
The commentators were impressed with Lee’s pitches, saying, “The ball is moving well” and “The rotation is much better.” His pitches seemed to have gotten stronger as his control improved. Judging from his recent games, he is pitching more steadily than Pedi, who is a little less fit.
Lee Jae-hak’s ‘ace instinct’ has been fully awakened as he has continued to perform well against teams with strong bats like LG and SSG. The secret weapon for NC’s upward trend has emerged.