Oh Seung-hwan of Team South Korea pitches in the ninth inning during the round one of baseball team competition match between Team Dominican Republic and Team South Korea on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 01, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Samsung Lions closer Oh Seung-hwan became the first closer in the Korean Baseball Organization to record 400 saves during his career after shutting the door against the SSG Landers in a 5-3 win Saturday.
Oh got Landers shortstop Park Seong-han to fly out to Lions left fielder Koo Ja-wook for the final out of the game to accomplish the historic feat.
During Oh’s career, he won the KBO Rookie of the Year in 2005 and was an eight-time All-Star in the KBO from 2005-08, 2011-13 and in 2022. Oh has led the KBO in saves from 2005-08, 2011, 2012, and 2021.
Oh has won five Korean Series championships with the Lions in 2005-06 and 2011-13 and two Korean Series MVP Awards in 2005 and 2011.
Oh helped the Lions win the 2011 Asia Series beating Nippon Professional Baseball’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the championship game of the discontinued club tournament.
The Samsung Lions championship in the 2011 Asia Series was the only time a team from South Korea won the event when it was held.
Oh Seung-hwan features a rising fastball that was nicknamed “Dol-jikgu” (stone fastball) in Korea. This ranged from 92-93 mph and topped out at 96. He also throws a slider.
Oh Seung-hwan has also played internationally for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic, Olympics, and Asian Games. During 2006, South Korea took third place in the WBC and at the Asian Games. In 2008, his team won a gold medal in the Olympics. During 2009, he played in the WBC again, and South Korea was the runner-up to Japan, losing 6-2 in the championship game.
In 2005, he began his career in the KBO with the Samsung Lions. He won Rookie of the Year with 16 saves in 99 innings pitched and 115 strikeouts. His ERA was 1.18 and his WHIP was 0.67.
Oh pitched with the Samsung Lions until 2013 and was a seven-time All-Star in his first nine seasons with the Lions. During this span, he led the KBO in saves five times and won the Asian Series in 2011.
Oh Seung-hwan left the KBO for the NPB and signed with the Hanshin Tigers in 2014. He broke the records for the most saves for a foreign pitcher and for a Korean pitcher with 39 saves. In 2015, he topped that mark with 41 saves. In two seasons in the NPB, he saved 80 games in 136 innings with an ERA of 2.25 and 147 strikeouts.
Oh was a NPB All-Star in 2015 and won the Central League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award in 2014.
After 2015, Oh’s contract was terminated by the Tigers due to a Korean investigation regarding gambling in 2014. He decided to go to MLB and he signed a one-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals with a club option for a second year on January 11, 2016. He made his MLB debut when he was 33 years old.
Oh Seung-hwan pitched 79.2 innings with 16 saves and 103 strikeouts in his rookie season in MLB. His ERA was 1.92 and his WHIP was 0.91, and he saved 20 games with an ERA of 4.10 in his second season.
In 2018, he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and appeared in 48 games, pitching 47 innings with 59 strikeouts. He was traded to the Colorado Rockies on July 26, 2018. He pitched 21.1 innings and struck out 25 batters through the stretch run of 2018 with Colorado.
In 2019, Oh Seung-hwan pitched 18 innings with an ERA of 9.33 before undergoing surgery that ended his season. The Rockies released him, and he went back to the Samsung Lions in 2020.
He pitched 225.2 innings in his MLB career with 42 saves, 252 strikeouts, and an ERA of 3.31.
In Oh’s 19-year span from MLB, NPB, and the KBO he has posted a 61-44 record with a 2.34 ERA appearing in 1,026 games and one start. Oh has a total of 522 saves throwing 1,100 innings allowing 823 hits, 286 earned runs, 94 home runs, 262 walks, and 1,215 strikeouts alongside a 0.986 WHIP.
The Samsung Lions are 61-81 and are out of playoff contention holding the eighth seed.
The 2023 KBO postseason will begin on October 19.
The LG Twins at 85-56 clinched their first regular season crown in 29 years on October 3 and will wait out the rest of the way with a bye to the Korean Series.
The last day of the 2023 KBO regular season is on October 17. The Samsung Lions will play the (74-65) NC Dinos on Sunday at 1 a.m. EDT in Changwon, South Korea at Changwon NC Park.
The NC Dinos are in a three-way tie for third place with the SSG Landers and Doosan Bears for the final three days of the 2023 regular season.