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LG Twins starter Casey Kelly celebrates after completing the top of the fourth inning against the KT Wiz in Game 5 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul in this Nov. 13, 2023 file photo. Yonhap

Casey Kelly hasn’t been pitching for the LG Twins for as long as he has, and as well as he has, by staying the same. He understands that when there are only nine opposing teams over a 144-game season, he simply can’t afford to go after hitters the same way year in and year out.

As he enters his sixth season in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), Kelly has decided to add a new pitch to his arsenal.

“I’m starting to throw the sweeper a little bit more,” Kelly told Yonhap News Agency before the Twins’ home opener Saturday at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul. He was referring to a variation of a slider with more horizontal break.

The sweeper was all the rage in the KBO last year, with NC Dinos ace Erick Fedde riding that pitch to a Triple Crown and the regular season MVP award.

“Obviously, pitching against the same league for five years, you’ve got to change it up,” Kelly said. “And last year was probably the toughest year for me individually. And so this year, I really wanted to make sure that I was getting better and had some more weapons that I was able to use for the hitters this year.”

In an earlier interview with Yonhap in May last year, Kelly said he didn’t know anything about the sweeper. But it was a different story this offseason.

“I wanted to try to throw that, and I’ve been messing with some different grips and trying to find the one that’s best for me,” Kelly said. “The grip that I use is pretty similar to what (Fedde) was doing last year.”

Kelly recruited some help from his father, Pat Kelly, a former major league catcher and now manager of the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds.

“I talked to my dad a lot this offseason,” the son said. “We always try to work on pitch sequencing and new pitches.”

Kelly is now the longest-serving foreign pitcher in Twins history. For the 2019-2023 period, Kelly leads all KBO pitchers with 68 wins, 684 strikeouts, 144 starts and 875 2/3 innings pitched.

But he had a trying year in 2023, at least in the first half. He carried a 5.66 ERA after his first half-dozen starts. He turned things around in May by going 4-1 with a 2.73 ERA but struggled again over the next two months. The Twins shot down rumors that they were about to cut Kelly loose, and the pitcher rewarded their faith by posting a 2.90 ERA in the second half.

The exclamation point came during the postseason, as Kelly was the winning pitcher in the Twins’ title-clinching, 6-2 victory over the KT Wiz in Game 5 of the Korean Series. It was the Twins’ first title in 29 years.

Kelly now knows the Twins will have a huge bull’s-eye on their back this year.

“Everybody’s excited, and obviously, we have a lot of guys from our last year’s team that are still on our team,” Kelly said. “We’re confident in ourselves, but there’s a lot of great teams in this league. The talent just continues to get better and better every year. So it’s going to be fun to play 카지노사이트킹 this year.”

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