Ahn Woo-jin will definitely not be on the Kiwoom mound in 2024. Now, Kiwoom needs to find an ace to fill in for him for a while.
Kiwoom plans to have Ahn undergo Tommy John surgery as soon as possible. The surgery and rehabilitation will take about a year to one year and six months. It’s not a decision that should be rushed, but it could affect not only Ahn’s health but also the direction of the organization. If Ahn has to deal with his military service at the same time, he could be out until the 2025 season.
In any case, Kiwoom is going through a rebuilding or retooling process, whether it’s short or long. Nevertheless, an ace who can hold the center of the mound is absolutely necessary. You need to win the games you need to win so you can gain experience. Kiwoom is a team that understands the value of a quality ace and how important their presence is.
Choi Won-tae (LG) is gone, and Chung Chan-heon will likely be ready for the start of the 2024 season after back surgery. Jang Jae-young is a slow developer, but it’s hard to see him as more than a fourth or fifth starter. Realistically, a strong foreign ace is more important.
In that regard, it’s worth keeping an eye on “Panama Express” Ariel Hurtado (27). Overshadowed by Ahn Woo-jin, he’s had a fairly steady streak this season. In 25 games, he’s 9-8 with a 2.72 ERA, 122 strikeouts and 37 walks in 155⅔ innings. A 1.14 WHIP and a .235 batting average with 17 quality starts.
1st in innings pitched, 6th in ERA, strikeouts, WHIP, and FIP. Eighth in the league with a 4.65 WAR per Baseball-Reference.com. Fifth among pitchers behind Woo-jin Ahn (5.10), Raul Alcantara (Doosan, 5.04), and Eric Peddy (NC, 4.69). His 3.27 ERA is sixth in the league and his 2.61 WAR is sixth in the league. Eighth in the league with an adjusted ERA of 150.8, including park effectors.
Along with Ahn, he is the most calculated pitcher on the team. He has allowed three runs or less in nine consecutive games, six of which have been quality starts. In four of those games, he went seven innings or more and allowed two or fewer earned runs, but still only won four times. While he hasn’t had a bad win pace of late, he hasn’t had the same luck as Ahn over the course of the season.
Hurado is the pitcher Kiwoom picked to be their foreign ace for the upcoming season. His fastball averages 146.2 mph, which isn’t very fast, but it sits in the low 140s and high 150s well into the mid-teens. He has a similar mix of four-seam and two-seam pitches, as well as a 바카라 slider, curveball, and changeup. Overall, his changeup command isn’t bad. Occasional ups and downs. He doesn’t have much of a left-right bias (0.246 BABIP against lefties, 0.220 against righties).
The organization was confident that Hurado would be the No. 1 starter in the A’s organization. He hasn’t disappointed. Ian McKinney, who was picked up midseason, was a disappointment, so the team will need at least one new foreign pitcher next year. And if Furado finishes the season with a solid performance, he will be a natural candidate to be re-signed.
Of all the foreign pitchers this season, Pedi has gotten the most attention from Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball officials. Furado has flown relatively under the radar. It’s hard to know exactly what’s on Furado’s mind, but if Kiwoom needs a solid ace, it would be a good idea to secure him as the number one starter next year after a year of KBO experience. The catch is that Furado isn’t old enough to give up the big leagues.