“I honestly thought I should retire.”
Hanwha Eagles veteran right-hander Jang Si-hwan, 36, hasn’t been out of the doldrums for long. Jang snapped a personal 19-game losing streak last month when he pitched one scoreless inning in relief against his hometown Hanwha Eagles on March 25,메이저놀이터 earning the win. Since his victory against Doosan in Daejeon on September 22, 2020, Jang has suffered through a painful 19-game losing streak over four seasons. On April 1, he broke Shim Soo-chang’s 18-game losing streak against Gochuk Kiwoom in the opening game, making him the longest losing pitcher in KBO history.
During the 19-game losing streak, the pitcher’s mind was in turmoil, and he wondered if he should take off his uniform. His family was his biggest support.
As soon as he stopped his disgraceful streak from getting longer, he said, “I’m most sorry to my wife. “I honestly thought that I should retire, but I thought that I should hang in there, because I have a family, and even if I don’t, it’s worse because I have a family,” he said. Because I have a family, I tried to hold on even harder even if I couldn’t, and I think that’s when the opportunity to quit came.”
In fact, Jang came back as a completely different pitcher, spending 86 days in the second team before being called up to the first team on July 4. Since June, his velocity has noticeably improved. In 10 games in the Futures League in June, Jang went 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings pitched, paving the way for his call-up to the first team.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho applauded Jang’s pitching before the Changwon NC Dinos game on June 15, saying that he has become a completely different pitcher, “He has been pitching very steadily since he went to the Future Team.”
Jang Si-hwan ⓒ Hanwha Eagles
Jang Si-hwan of the Hanwha Eagles. Hanwha Eagles
Jang continues to pitch well in the first team. In 13 games since returning to the first team, he has one win, two holds, one save, 14⅓ innings pitched, and a 1.26 ERA.
Jang Si-hwan has solidified himself as one of the best pitchers in the game with his performance on the mound. In the bullpen, Joo Hyun-sang, Kim Bum-soo, Lee Tae-yang, and Park Sang-won are the top contributors. “Right now, Kim Bum-soo, Jang Si-hwan, and Park Sang-won are our best pitchers,” Choi said.
Jang Si-hwan also came through in the NC game on the 15th to prevent the team from losing. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning with a 3-2 lead, Jang took over from starter Felix Peña. With a lineup of devastating hitters lined up, including Son Ah-seop, Park Min-woo, Park Geon-woo, and Jason Martin, Jang needed to stop the flow quickly.
Jang Si-hwan induced the first batter, Son As-seob, to ground out to shortstop, but the third baseman, Do Tae-hoon, had to wait to score. Tied 3-3. NC would not allow any more runs to score. Jang Si-hwan ended the inning by getting Park Min-woo, who had hit a triple in his previous at-bat, to fly out to right field.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jang continued to pitch cleanly. His slider worked well. He struck out the leadoff batter, Park Gun-woo, with a slider, then used a slider to get Martin to fly out to second base. Two batters later, he used a slider to get Kwon Hee-dong to ground out to the pitcher.
Jang pitched 1 ⅔ innings of 21-pitch shutout ball, setting the stage for the bullpen to last until the 12th inning. After Jang, Hanwha used Kim Bum-soo (1 inning), Joo Hyun-sang (1⅓ innings), and Park Sang-won (1⅔ innings) to keep the game scoreless. As Hanwha shut down the NC bats, they were unable to avoid their sixth draw of the season.
The self-discipline that made him contemplate retirement during the 19-game losing streak is now a great asset for Jang Si-hwan. Putting the disgraceful record that weighed heavily on his mind has also helped him in the mental game of baseball. Now, Hanwha fans won’t just remember him as a heartbroken pitcher with a losing record. Jang has carved out a place for himself as an indispensable pitcher for Hanwha, paving the way for a better ending to his career.