Kiwoom Heroes foreign pitcher Ian McKinney (28) has been on a long slump.
McKinney started the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against the Doosan Bears at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, and threw 91 pitches over four innings, allowing six runs and five hits (two home runs) while walking four and striking out four.
This raised McKinney’s ERA to 6.34 from 5.72. Behind McKinney’s struggles, Kiwoom lost to Doosan 6-8.
McKinney struggled with the Doosan lineup throughout the game. After giving up a walk to Kim Jae-ho in the bottom of the first inning, he gave up a two-run double to Rojas.
After a scoreless second inning, McKinney gave up another run in the top of the third. This time, he gave up a solo shot to left field to Kim Jae-ho with the bases loaded. The home run was the first of three runs McKinney allowed in the game.
McKinney couldn’t settle down as he continued to pitch. He gave up a walk to Rojas, who had just homered in the previous at-bat, and a single up the middle to Yang, putting runners on first and third. Yang then gave up an RBI single to Seok-hwan Yang.
McKinney gave up a single in the top of the fourth, but seemed to settle down as he retired the next three batters. But he couldn’t get out of the fifth inning. In the top of the fifth, he gave up a leadoff single to Cho and a walk to Heo Kyung-min to put runners on first and second with no outs.
With Kim Jae-ho at the plate, the Kiwoom bench removed the shaky McKinney and brought up right-hander Ha Young-min. Young-min hit a two-run double off Rojas, bringing both runners across the plate for McKinney’s successor. This brought McKinney’s final run total for the game to six.
McKinney donned the Kiwi uniform on June 16 for a total of $186,000. He replaces Eric Yokishi, who went 56-36 with a 2.85 ERA in five seasons.
Since signing, McKinney has generated a lot of buzz with his unique resume. First, McKinney spent the entire season in the American Independent League. In total, he pitched 46.2 innings in the independent leagues, going 4-1 with a 4.24 ERA. McKinney even served as a pitching coach for the organization.
At the time of his signing, Kiwoom described McKinney as “a fastball that tops out at 147 mph, with a curve, changeup, and cutter. Especially his curveball, which he utilizes as a deciding pitch, is powerful.”
However, McKinney’s fastball velocity (per Statcast) was only sitting at 140.6 mph prior to this game. In the game, McKinney’s average fastball velocity remained at 141 mph. He doesn’t have great fastball command, so he can’t overpower hitters.
He also doesn’t have a great changeup. Prior to this game, McKinney was walking 5.32 batters per nine innings. That’s about 1.7 more than the league average (3.63). His lack of command, coupled with a 먹튀검증 shaky command of his pitches, was a recipe for disaster.
Before the game, manager Hong Won-ki said of McKinney, “I want him to pitch aggressively by reducing his strikeouts and fighting for timing with hitters until the fifth inning. Especially when McKinney pitches, the defense time is longer,” and ordered an aggressive game.
“We’ve had a high strikeout rate since the independent league. I was looking forward to seeing how it would change because the league is different. However, if he struggles with his pitches, even if the number of pitches increases, the number of self-inflicted crises will also increase,” he said. Hong’s worries were realized on that day.