바카라LG bullpen pitcher Ham Deok-ju, 28, has been the best left-handed bullpen pitcher in the league in his third year. He has thrown five consecutive no-hit, no-walk games.
Ham took the mound in the fifth inning of the Jamsil Lotte game on April 25, trailing 0-3. It was “bullpen day” as Lee Jung-yong, a bullpen specialist, made his first career start. LG didn’t want to give up any more runs, and he came out earlier than usual.
He got Han Dong-hee to ground out to third base and then struck out Park Seung-wook and Kim Min-seok in succession to end the inning. In the sixth inning, Ham Deok-ju got Son Sung-bin to fly out to left, Hwang Sung-bin to ground out to shortstop, and Yoon Dong-hee to ground out to the pitcher. He went two innings without a hit or walk.
Ham Deok-ju has been in great form lately. He hasn’t allowed a hit or a walk in five consecutive games, starting on April 16 against Doosan. He has retired all 16 batters he has faced on the mound.
With his recent success, he has a season record of 3-3 with a 1.02 ERA in 36 games (35⅓ innings pitched), 3 saves and 11 holds. He is tied for fourth in holds.
His 36 appearances are tied for the most among league bullpen arms this season with teammate Woo-young Jung (36). He has thrown the third-most innings among league bullpen arms with 30 or more appearances. KT’s Park Young-hyun (36⅔ innings) and SSG’s Noh Kyung-eun (36⅓ innings) are next.
Despite this, his ERA is the lowest among bullpen pitchers with more than 30 innings pitched. He also has a .127 batting average and a WHIP (walks allowed per inning) of just 0.76. His WHIP is the lowest among bullpen pitchers with 30 or more appearances. This is one of the best bullpens in the league when it comes to detailed stats.
In 10 games in May, they threw 11⅔ scoreless innings. In June, they pitched 10⅔ innings of scoreless baseball (1 earned run) in 11 games, extending their ERA to 0 for the second month in a row.
LG’s trade acquisitions are finally coming to fruition this year. LG made a two-for-two trade with Doosan ahead of the 2021 season, sending Yang Seok-hwan and Nam-ho to Doosan for Ham Deok-ju and Chae Ji-seon.
However, Ham Deok-ju has been plagued by injuries for the past two years. In his first year, he was limited to 16 games (21 innings) due to an elbow injury. He posted a 1-2 record with a 4.29 ERA.
After the 2021 season, he underwent surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow. After pitching in the bullpen in April and May of 2022, he was sent down to the second team to prepare for the starting rotation. Finished the season with a 2.13 ERA in 13 games with no wins or losses.
Started spring training healthy and stayed out of injury trouble this season. With a changeup as his main weapon, Ham is a lefty but is strong against righties. His weakness against lefties has been overcome by adding a slider to his arsenal as a third pitch after his fastball and changeup.