The San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim has been on a tear lately, and he’s finally facing off against a two-hit All-Star.
Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has been scheduled to make his final start of the first half of the season, and his matchup with Kim is drawing attention.
Ohtani will take the mound against San Diego at 7:40 a.m. ET on May 5 at Petco Park. It will be his 17th start of the season and the last of the first half. It will also be the first time he has faced Kim Ha-seong, who is representing the Korean Big League for the first time.
On March 3, Kim started at first base against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park and went 1-for-3 with a solo home run, one RBI, one run scored and one walk.
Trailing 4-1 with two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Kim pulled a 92.3-mph fastball from left-hander Andrew Abbott over the left field fence. It was his 10th home run of the season, a thunderous blast with a 19-degree launch angle, 104 mph bat speed and 383 feet of travel.
After reaching double digits in homers for the second straight year last year, Kim has five homers in his last 13 games. In that span, he’s batting .333 (16-for-48) with 12 RBI, 10 runs scored, and a 1.067 OPS. In other words, he’s driven in half of his season’s home runs and 38.7% of his RBIs in the last two weeks.
Notably, all five of his recent home runs have come on fastballs. He pulled a 92.3-mph fastball from Cincinnati rookie left-hander Abbott in the fourth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 29, and a 97.3-mph fastball from Luis Ortiz in the fourth inning that cleared the left-center field fence.
In the seventh inning against the Nationals on June 26, he pulled a 97.0 mph fastball from right-hander Jordan Weems over the left field fence on a line drive. Against the Nats on June 24, he crushed a 91.9-mph fastball from left-hander Patrick Corbin in the first inning for a 411-foot over-the-mound solo shot. It was his first major league leadoff home run.
In the top of the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants, Kim crushed a 91.4-mph body sinker from right-hander Jacob Junis into the left-field seats. Kim has been relatively weak against fastballs since June. Since June, he’s batting .333 (20-for-60) against fastballs.
Ohtani, the “pitcher,” is coming off his seventh win of the season after allowing one run on four hits and striking out 10 in 6 1/3 innings against the Chicago White Sox on May 28. In five June starts, he went 2-2 with a 3.26 ERA and 37 strikeouts.
Ohtani was initially scheduled to make his final start of the first half against San Diego on June 4, but a setback against the White Sox that resulted in a broken nail on his right middle finger pushed his start back a day. It was moved from the fourth to the fifth, but he was originally scheduled to face Kim Ha-Sung.
Coincidentally, Ohtani has been pitching with his fastball lately. Of the 102 pitches he threw against the White Sox, 35 were fastballs. His fastball topped out at 99.2 mph and averaged 96.3 mph. Against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 22, 안전놀이터추천 when he allowed one run on five hits in seven innings and struck out 12, he threw 49 fastballs out of 101 pitches, with a velocity of up to 100.3 mph.
With the power he’s been showing lately, tearing up opposing starting pitchers, it’ll be interesting to see if he can keep Ohtana down on Friday.
Meanwhile, Kim’s big day boosted his Baseball-Reference WAR (bWAR) to 4.0, good for second in the NL behind only Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves (4.8). In the AL, he ranks fifth behind Ohtani (6.7), Akuna Jr. and Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco (4.2) and Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert Jr. (4.0). However, MLB did not select Kim to the final roster for the All-Star Game.