‘ERA 3.41→4.22→11.57’ What the heck is going on with the KBO’s longest tenured pitcher?

Kiwoom Heroes’ Eric Yokishi (34) hasn’t been able to break out of his slump.

Yokishi took the mound against the LG Twins in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Saturday, giving up six runs on 10 hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 4⅔ innings.

After being hit by a pitch in the top of the first inning, Yokishi got off to a good start by striking out Hong Chang-ki and preventing Moon from stealing second. However, he gave up a triple to leadoff hitter Austin Dean in the second inning and scored on an RBI single by Park Dong-won.

After walking Kim Bum-seok and Shin Min-jae in the third inning but not allowing a run, Yokishi was hit by back-to-back singles from Austin and Park Dong-won in the fourth inning to put runners on first and second with no outs. A sacrifice bunt by Moon Bo-kyung put runners on second and third, but Yokishi eventually gave up a two-run double to Oh Ji-hwan. Kim Min-sung followed with a single to put runners on first and third, but he gave up a sacrifice fly to Kim Bum-seok.

In the fifth inning, Yokishi kept the bases loaded with two outs, but Park Dong-won singled and Moon Bo-kyung doubled to put runners on second and third. After a double by Oh Ji-hwan, Yokishi was replaced by Lee Myung-jong to end the game. Lee struck out Kim Min-seong to put out the fire. However, the damage was done and Kiwoom lost 1-9.

Yokishi, who joined Kiwoom in 2019, is currently the KBO’s longest-serving foreign player, along with Casey Kelly (LG), who also started the game. However, he has struggled a bit this season, going 5-3 with a 4.39 ERA in 12 games (65⅔ innings).

Even more concerning is that Yokishi’s performance has gotten worse as the season has progressed. After a solid April with three wins and a 3.41 ERA in five games (29 innings), Yokishi faltered in May, going 2-2 with a 4.22 ERA in six games (32 innings). In his first start of June, he didn’t last five innings and gave up a bunch of runs, raising his ERA to 11.57. His season ERA increased from 3.84 to 4.39.안전놀이터

Now in his fifth year in the KBO, Yokishi’s velocity has dropped slightly from last season. After topping out in the low 140 mph range, Yokishi’s fastball only reached 145 mph on the day, and his average velocity was 143 mph. He’s never been a 150+ mph pitcher, but the drop in velocity has led to a noticeable increase in his strikeout rate.

However, his strikeout rate didn’t drop much. He still has a sharp delivery that doesn’t allow many walks. After a rough start to June, Yokishi will be looking to rebound the rest of the season.

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