Ryu Hyun-jin to start opener vs. LG…’ace spark’ with Angels

‘Korean Monster’ Ryu Hyun-jin’s (Hanwha Eagles) return to the KBO has been confirmed as the season opener.

Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho announced Ryu as the opening day starter at the 2024 KBO League media day at Lotte Hotel in Jung-gu, Seoul on Wednesday. Hanwha will take on the LG Twins at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 23. It will be the first time in 12 years that Ryu has pitched in a KBO opener since 2012, the season before he entered Major League Baseball (MLB).

Ryu is a self-proclaimed “LG nemesis. His first KBO win and most strikeouts in a single game (17) both came against LG. In addition, 21.4 percent (21 wins) of his 98 KBO wins have come against LG. For LG, which won the overall title last year, the opening two-game series against Hanwha will be a tricky one. LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop was even wary when the news of Ryu’s signing broke during spring training, saying, “We’ll have to lower our target win total by two.”

“I think (the manager) said that because the best pitcher in Korea is back,” said pitcher Lim Chan-kyu, who represented LG at the media day, adding that he is confident that his teammates, including Ji-hwan, will be ready to add two more wins. LG’s starting pitcher against Ryu will be Detrick Enns. The newcomer has appeared in two exhibition games, going 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 10 innings pitched. The left-hander combines a four-seam fastball that averages around 94 mph (151.3 km/h) with a cut fastball, changeup, and curveball.

In Incheon, Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG Landers) will face Aaron Wilkerson (Lotte Giants) in the opening game. Kyle Hart (NC Dinos) and Raul Alcantara (Doosan Bears) in Changwon, and William Cuevas (KT Wiz) and Connor Seabold (Samsung Lions) in Suwon. In Gwangju, Will Crowe (KIA Tigers) and Ariel Hurtado (Kiwoom Heroes) will headline the team’s first game of the season. Of the 10 clubs, only Hanwha and SSG will have homegrown starters on the mound for their openers, while the other eight will have foreign pitchers.


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