Cardinals pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun to get first major league startAfter a coronavirus outbreak wreaked havoc on his team's schedule for weeks, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun will finally make his first big league start Tuesday.
The MLB released rescheduling updates for the Cardinals last week, after Covid-19 had affected 18 people within the organization and halted the team's action for two weeks.
They will resume playing Saturday in a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox. In all, the Cardinals will play 53 games in the remaining 44 days in this abbreviated, 60-game season.
According to manager Mike Shildt's tentative rotation plans, as reported by St. Louis media, Kim is set to start the first game of a doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs at 4:15 p.m. Central Time on Monday in Chicago, or 6:15 a.m. Tuesday in Seoul. It will be the Korean pitcher's first major league start, following his relief appearance on opening day on July 24.
After spending 13 years in the KBO, Kim signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals last winter, with hopes of winning a spot in the starting rotation.
Kim appeared well on his way to a rotation job thanks to a strong spring training, before the coronavirus pandemic forced the MLB to press pause in mid-March. When teams returned for summer camp in July, former All-Star starter Carlos Martinez, who saved 24 games in 2019, moved ahead of Kim in the rotation pecking order and earned the fifth starting spot. Kim was unexpectedly named the team's closer, though he had never recorded a regular season save in his decade-plus career in Korea.
Kim recorded a nervy save on July 24 against the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up two runs — one unearned — in the ninth inning of a 5-4 victory.
Kim hasn't pitched since, with the Cardinals playing only four more games after that and not giving the left-hander any save opportunities. Kim's scheduled start earlier this month was also pushed back because of the virus. And now the 2008 KBO MVP as a starter will finally get his first chance to prove his worth in the rotation.
Also on Monday, another Korean pitcher in the majors, Ryu Hyun-jin of the Toronto Blue Jays, was able to make his fifth start of the season. Ryu last pitched on Tuesday, and on his normal, five days' rest, his next start should come Monday against the Baltimore Orioles in Baltimore. The first pitch is at 7:35 p.m. local time, or 8:35 a.m. Tuesday in Seoul.
Ryu is 1-1 with a 4.05 ERA over his four starts in his first season with the Blue Jays. He has been particularly strong over his past two starts, having allowed just one run in 11 innings with 15 strikeouts.
If both left-handers end up making the start that day, it would be the first time since April 2007 to have two Korean starters pitch on the same day in the majors.
Back then, it was Kim Byung-hyun starting for the Colorado Rockies against the Arizona Diamondbacks, and Seo Jae-weong taking the mound for the Tampa Bay Rays against the Minnesota Twins.