Ham Deok-ju (28-LG), who has been a dominant pitcher this season with an ERA in the 1.00s, has fallen victim to another injury. A recurrence of the elbow injury that plagued him two years ago put an end to his late-season trade success story.
LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop met with reporters at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on Nov. 20 to share the news that left-hander Ham Deok-joo is out for the season.
Yeom said, “I still have a lot of elbow inflammation, so the regular season is tough. We decided it was better not to overdo it. I’m taking medication because it’s swollen and inflamed.” “I told him not to hold the ball for the postseason after the season. We’ll let him rest the rest of the regular season,” he sighed.
Ham Deok-ju was removed from the first team roster on August 29. The move was made as an injury precaution, but as he prepared to return, his left elbow worsened. “He played catch after five days off and said his elbow was a little uncomfortable,” Yeom said earlier this month. The plan to enroll in the first team after 10 days of rest was canceled, and when his condition did not improve, he went to the hospital on the 19th for a medical examination and was found to have elbow inflammation. His season was over.
Two and a half years ago, Ham Deok-ju was the centerpiece of a big deal in the KBO. In March 2021, LG general manager Cha Myung-seok offered Yang Seok-hwan to Doosan, which needed a first baseman, and then proposed a trade for Ham Deok-ju in return. The two teams added young pitchers like Chae Ji-seon and Nam Ho to the Yang Seok-hwan-Ham Deok-ju swap to complete the two-for-two deal. Ham Deok-ju then left Doosan for rival LG.
Once a dynasty closer at Doosan with 27 saves, Ham was plagued by injuries after his move to LG. An elbow injury ended his first season with LG, where he went 1-2 with a 4.29 ERA in 16 games (21 innings), and he underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow after the season.
The 2022 season was no different. After 13 games (12⅔ innings) with a 2.13 ERA, he was sent down to the second team in early May to prepare for a start, but was sidelined for four months with a nagging injury. He pitched in the Futures League in mid-September but was unable to return to the first team and finished the season in the second team.
In his third season after being traded, Ham Deok-ju finally broke out. He appeared in 57 games, posting four wins, four saves, and a 1.62 ERA with 16 holds, repeating his 2018 season in which he posted a sub-2.00 ERA and 27 saves. With ERAs of 0 in May, 0.71 in June, and 0.90 in August, he helped LG leapfrog to the top of the regular season standings. He is the only pitcher with a sub-one ERA among pitchers with 50 or more relief appearances.
The 2023 regular season, however, was again a sad ending. After 55⅓ innings in 2020, 21 in 2021 and 12⅔ in 2022, he reached the 50-inning mark for the third time in three seasons, but his elbow could not withstand the accumulated fatigue. “I think it’s because I threw after not throwing for a few years,” Yeom said.
Ham Deok-ju’s opposite number, Yang Seok-hwan, has been the “trade pit” of the 2021 season, taking over as Doosan’s No. 5 first baseman after being acquired. In 133 games, he batted .275 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs, erasing the team’s first base woes and helping them reach the Korean Series for the first time in seven years.
Unlike the first year, the second year was a disappointment. His nagging adductor injury flared up early in the season, and even after returning in May, he was plagued by lingering effects, finishing the year with an underwhelming 2-for-4 with 20 home runs and 51 RBIs in 107 games. In addition to Yang, other key players such as Kim Jae-hwan and Jeong Soo-bin also struggled, and Doosan finished ninth for the first time in its history.스포츠토토
Yang has rediscovered his big-league instincts this season. He’s tied for fourth in the league in home runs with 19, 76 RBIs and a .785 OPS in 119 games and is on pace for his third straight 20-homer season. He’s been a big part of Doosan’s fall miracle, filling in for struggling No. 4 hitter Kim Jae-hwan.
Coincidentally, both Ham Deok-ju and Yang Seok-hwan are eligible for free agency after the 2023 season. If they hit the market, they’ll be valued based on their combined performance, but Yang still has the edge in terms of post-trade impact. Just as Ham Deok-ju was looking to write his own trade success story this season, he showed another weakness in durability and failed to fully erase the disappointment of the past two years.