“Emphasize the process over the result…” The philosophy of the legendary coach who created the ‘Hwasubun’ NC pitching staff with 112 career wins

“Talking about results can stress players out, so I try to emphasize the process, such as routines and mindset.”

NC Dinos pitching coach Kim Soo-kyung talks about how the team’s pitching staff was built.

The Dinos were picked to finish in the bottom half of the standings by many experts before the start of the season. This was largely due to the departure of Yang Ji-ji, Noh Jin-hyuk, and Won Jong-hyun, who were the team’s key resources during the offseason, to the Doosan Bears, Lotte Giants, and Kiwoom Heroes, respectively, via free agency.

In addition, longtime foreign pitcher Drew Ruchinski, who compiled a 53-36 record with a 3.06 ERA between the 2019 and 2022 seasons, headed to the United States for a big league challenge. With the departure of key resources in both the pitching and batting departments, it was only natural for the team to be labeled as underdogs.

However, NC has been playing relatively well, defying expectations. Especially in the early part of the season, they shocked the baseball world with their first-place finish. They’ve faded a bit lately, sitting in fourth place with 22 wins and 21 losses through 27 games, but that’s still a remarkable feat given their pre-season projections.

Much of the credit for NC’s success goes to the mound. According to the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) archives, NC currently has a team ERA of 3.47, which ranks second out of 10 teams. That’s pretty impressive considering the team has been plagued by a string of injuries.

The word that comes to mind when I think of the NC pitching staff this season is “resilient”. Whenever someone goes down due to injury, the players who step in have filled the void perfectly. Pitching coach Kim Soo-kyung’s guidance has also played a role in this virtuous cycle.

“When one person is injured, one person comes up, and in a way, it’s an opportunity for the player who comes up,” Kim said on the 25th before the game against Busan Lotte (1-11 NC loss). “I tell the players to make an effort to seize that opportunity. I tell them not to relax to take the opportunity. (I tell them) to be greedy. When individuals come up, the team grows,” he said, explaining the philosophy behind the system.

Recently, NC has seen Song Myung-ki struggle and be demoted to the second team, and native left-handed ace Koo Chang-mo was sent down to recharge his batteries, but the team hasn’t faltered. On the 21st against the Changwon Samsung Lions (1-2 NC loss), right-hander Lee Jae-hak, a substitute starter, pitched six innings of no-hit ball with two walks and four strikeouts, and on the 24th against the Busan Lotte (3-1 NC win), left-hander Choi Sung-young did his part with five innings of five-hit ball with four walks and one strikeout.

Coach Kim Soo-kyung said, “Both (Lee) Jae-hak and (Choi) Sung-young were sent down to the second team, but they prepared well with the idea that they would get their chance without giving up. These thoughts could be a plus for the team,” he said with a smile.

Kim also emphasized competition. “You can only compete if you go one step further than others,” he said, adding, “As long as you don’t get injured, I tell them to be greedy. “That’s what I tell the younger players, mainly the first and second years, that when they come to the first team, they have an opportunity, and they have to be greedy in that way to take that opportunity. It’s my job to create that atmosphere,” he said.

“I want to create an environment where young players can learn something from the developmental system in the second team, create their own routine process, and then when they come to the first team, they can continue to do that without changing their routine,” said Kim Soo-kyung. One of the best examples of this is right-hander Lee Yong-jun.

Yoo has been one of NC’s breakout stars this season. He turned pro in 2021 and didn’t win a game until last year, but this year he’s come into his own and earned a spot in the starting lineup. However, he has struggled a bit in his last two games, allowing eight runs (seven earned) in a combined 4.2 innings. His season record is 2-2 with a 3.09 ERA.

“Last year, Yong-jun was developed as a starter for a year in the second team,” said Coach Kim. “Last year, he started a lot in the second team and had one first-team experience each time. This year, I think he is performing better than last year because of the combination of his training and experience.”

Coach Kim Soo-kyung continued, “Last year, I think he wasn’t sure what pitches he was confident in. This year, his fastball and slider are high, but last year, he threw more curveballs and changeups than sliders. This year, I’ve been trying to figure out what pitches I’m comfortable with and what hitters are fooled by, and I’ve been using them more often, so I’m getting a lot of in-play hits. It varies from day to day, but it seems that knowing the pitches and going with those pitches, and being able to quickly engage with hitters, leads to good results,” he analyzed.

Selected by NC with the fourth overall pick in the first round of the 2023 Baseball Draft, right-hander Shin Young-woo is now following in Yoo’s footsteps. With a fastball that sits well over 150km/h and a curveball with a big drop, he is currently undergoing starting lessons in the Futures (second-tier) league. His record is 1-2 with a 4.24 ERA in five appearances. While his pitches are solid, he needs to refine his delivery.

“As we all know, (Shin) Young-woo’s strength is his velocity (on the ball),” said Kim Soo-kyung, “but when I first saw him, I thought he needed time to develop, just like (Lee) Yong-joon-yi. It’s good to come up quickly, but I think it’s also important to feel and do things in the starting rotation in the Futures League. If you do well (in the starting rotation) in the Futures League, you’re stronger, so you can be competitive when you come to the first team. Obviously, there are things that will improve after the developmental period.”토토사이트

Kim Soo-kyung, a legendary right-handed pitcher with a career record of 112 wins, 98 losses, three saves, and a 4.29 ERA with the Hyundai Unicorns and Heroes. What does he emphasize the most with his players?

“I try not to talk about results. I try to tell them, ‘Throw like this in this situation,’ and they try to do that. I try to emphasize the process, such as the routine and the mindset beforehand. I try not to talk about the results.” Coach Kim said.