“I’m the number two right-hander in the KBO? I don’t agree” Kwak-Bin raves about Moon Dong-Joo, but why?
“In my opinion, the number two right-hander in the KBO is Moon Dong-ju.”
Doosan’s homegrown ace Kwak-Bin Kwak, 24, had high praise for opposing starter Moon Dong-ju (20-Hanwha) after he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball (one homer), one walk, 10 strikeouts and one run in a win over Daejeon Hanwha on April 1. Moon, who faced off against Kwak, took the loss after giving up two runs on five hits (one home run) in five innings with four strikeouts and no walks.
In the postgame interview, Kwak-Bin was asked about being one win shy of 10 in his debut, and suddenly brought up Moon’s name. He said, “After Kiwoom An-woo-jin, I think Moon Dong-ju is the number two right-hander in the KBO. As soon as I started the second half, Dong-ju and I were in the same starting rotation schedule. He’s a junior, but I think he’s a better pitcher than me, so it was fun to throw with the mindset that I’ll learn whether I win or lose.”
Despite the four-year age difference, Young-geon, a right-handed starter representing the KBO League, had a good-natured rivalry and expressed respect for his junior who had a great battle. Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop also said, “I don’t know how I feel inside, but I would have said the same thing. Humility is the best weapon. It’s good to respect your opponent. That’s the normal mindset of a professional athlete, and that’s why their performance is so good,” he said with a smile.
Eleven days later, the two pitchers faced off in a return match at the same venue. This time, Moon had the laugh. He pitched six innings of four-hit ball with one walk and five strikeouts in a 6-1 victory over Doosan in Daejeon. It was a valuable win that snapped the team’s five-game losing streak and gave him his seventh win of the season. He also lowered his ERA to 3.28, ranking 10th in the league in that category.
His counterpart, Kwak Bin, pitched just as well. He gave up a two-run homer to Noh Si-hwan in the first inning, but kept the Hanwha bats in check until the sixth inning, when he and Moon Dong-ju locked up a tight pitching battle. He gave up two runs in the seventh and was unable to close out the inning, but took the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits (one home run) with two walks and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. In their two starts, Kwak Bin and Moon Dong-ju traded blows with a 1-1 record.
After the game, Moon Dong-joo said, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t always feel pressure to play, but today I didn’t feel pressure to lose back-to-back games, but I thought it would be difficult because (Kwak) Bin is my older brother. I thought I had to fight as hard as I could,” and when asked about Kwak Binh’s praise after their last match, he said, “I read the article, but I don’t agree. I think he should learn from him,” he laughed and waved his hand.
“After that game, I looked up a lot of videos of him pitching. There’s a reason he pitches so well. I felt like he was utilizing the strike zone well and pitching to the hitters. I don’t have that feeling yet,” he said, lowering his stance.
But Moon is becoming more and more of a pitcher as he goes along. In May, he had some ups and downs, including a momentary collapse due to sudden pitching difficulties, but he has stabilized recently by giving up three runs or less in nine consecutive games. He’s developed a knack for hanging in there when the going gets tough.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “Dong-ju has improved a lot on the mound. She doesn’t collapse even when things are a little bad. As he continues to experience the game, he is calculating what to do according to the situation. A lot of fastball pitchers, when they’re inexperienced, they just try to throw harder and harder, and they don’t think about how to deal with hitters. The more experience you have, the better you get at changing your patterns and anticipating the hitters’ mental state, even on bad days. It’s the same process with Dong-ju.”메이저사이트
Moon became the first Korean pitcher to reach 160 kilometers in the KBO’s official PTS, but he no longer relies solely on power. He also knows how to use his slow curveball and low slider to throw off hitters’ timing and lure bats. “Nowadays, speed is not the most important thing. It’s secondary. It’s more about how you battle the batter,” he said. “I’m getting better at that than I was last year. I’ve gotten a little bit better at battling hitters on the mound and reading the game.”
Moon Dong-ju, who has surpassed 100 innings (104⅓) in 20 games so far this season, said, “It’s my first 100 innings, but it feels good. I think I’ve been doing well without any injuries,” he said, adding, “It’s not up to me to lift the innings limit. I will prepare well for the given situation.” Hanwha had initially planned to limit Moon to 120-130 innings this year, including the Hangzhou Asian Games. However, the club recently discussed lifting the innings limit. After the Asian Games, Hanwha will check Moon’s physical condition and decide to lift the innings limit based on the medical report.