‘LG’s new savior’ Choi Won-tae wants to make 29-year-old soju and watches shine again

July 31, 2023 | by

The LG Twins and Kiwoom Heroes trade made headlines across the Korean Baseball Organization this past weekend.

LG acquired homegrown starting pitcher Choi Won-tae, 26, in a trade with Kiwoom on March 29, and it came at a hefty price. But LG’s desire to “win now” has left them speechless. Expectations have risen that the team can end its 29-year drought of winning the Korean Series.

As of March 31, LG was leading the regular season with 53 wins, two ties and 33 losses. They have been at the top of the league for over a month since June 26. They are 2.5 games ahead of the second-place SSG Landers (50 wins, 1 tie, 35 losses). If they can clinch the top spot in the regular season and go straight to the Korean Series, their chances of winning the title will increase.

Even with such a good record, LG was nervous. The starting lineup has been disappointing. The team batting average (.285) and bullpen ERA (3.24) have been at the top since the beginning of the season. Because the bullpen is so strong, the team’s overall ERA of 3.61 is also first.

But it’s a different story when you look at the starters. Their starting ERA is 4.02, good for sixth place. The foreign pitchers do a decent job, but there are no reliable homegrown starters. Veteran Im Chan-kyu (6-2 with a 3.35 ERA) is doing well, but he doesn’t carry the same weight as the other team’s ace. Kim Yun-sik and Lee Min-ho, who were touted as “young aces,” have struggled.

Even if your bullpen is strong, you can’t win games if your starters can’t hold up early on. This is especially true in a big game like the Korean Series. LG made a decision. To get the league’s top starter, Choi Won-tae, they sent their top hitting prospect, Lee Ju-hyung (22), and a young right-hander with a hard fastball, Kim Dong-gyu (20). They also gave up a first-round rookie pick in 2024. It was the first time in baseball history that a first-round pick was included in a trade.

Won-Tae Choi is a pitcher worthy of the trade. He has been on the first team mound since 2016 as a 19-year-old rookie. Before coming to LG via trade, he pitched in 184 games for Kiwoom (including its predecessor, Nexen), winning 66 games (48 losses). Only Yang Hyun-jong (KIA-82 wins) has more wins in the same period. No other pitcher in the KBO’s top 20 has more wins than Choi.

Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop, who had no reason to smile at the selection woes, was all smiles. It is said that he showed the brightest smile since he took over as LG’s manager. “I feel like my blood is flowing, like a cancerous lump has been removed,” he said. That’s how high the expectations are for Choi Won-tae. 먹튀검증

As soon as he donned the LG uniform, Choi lived up to the hype. On March 30, he made his debut in the ‘twins’ uniform in the Jamsil rivalry game against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium. He pitched six innings of two-hit ball, striking out five and walking none to lead LG to a 10-0 victory. He did not give up a single hit. It was Choi’s 67th career victory and his first with LG. It was also the moment when LG’s hopes turned to confidence.

MBC Cheongnyong in 1990


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