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Lindblom is first non-Korean to win KBO’s pitching award

Nov 07,2018
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Josh Lindblom [YONHAP]
Right-handed American pitcher Josh Lindblom was named Korean professional baseball’s pitcher of the year on Tuesday.

Lindblom, who is the top starter for the Doosan Bears, was selected as the recipient of the 2018 Choi Dong-won Award.

The award, named after the late star pitcher, was created in 2014 as a means of recognizing the best pitcher in the professional league. This year marks the first time a foreigner has ever been considered for the award.

Lindblom, who is in his fourth KBO season and his first with the Bears, led the league with a 2.88 ERA while going 15-4 in 26 starts. He also surpassed all other pitchers with 21 quality starts and ranked seventh with 157 strikeouts.

The Choi Dong-won Memorial Foundation announced that 23 pitchers were eligible for this year’s award.

The formal award ceremony will take place in Busan at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, a nod to the No. 11 jersey Choi wore while pitching for the Lotte Giants. Lindblom will receive 20 million won ($17,840).

The Bears are currently playing in the Korean Series against the SK Wyverns. The best of seven series is tied at one game apiece.

The foundation said if Lindblom is unable to attend, his father will be on hand to receive the award.

Park Young-gil, a former KBO manager who heads the selection committee, said he’d like to see Korean pitchers step up their game and grab the Choi Dong-won Award in coming years.

Foreign players have been allowed in the KBO since 1998 and teams can enter up to two pitchers. Most of them bring major league experience with them and immediately become the front-end starters here.

Korea hasn’t produced a consistently dominant starter since Ryu Hyun-jin, who spent seven years in the KBO before signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers in late 2012.

Choi Dong-won earned the moniker “Iron Arm” for his ability to go deep into games and pitch on short rest. His signature season came in 1984, when he made 51 appearances, including 20 starts. He went 27-13 with six saves, with 14 complete games and four shutouts. He had a 2.40 ERA in 284 and two thirds innings, and had 223 strikeouts, which stands as the all-time single-season record.

That year’s Korean Series saw Choi make five appearances in the seven game set and went 4-1 to help the Giants past the Samsung Lions. Choi, who tossed 41 innings in a 10-day span, remains the only pitcher in league history to win four games in the championship final.

Yonhap