Pitcher denies physical problems after rough KBO postseason outing

October 27, 2022

SEOUL, Oct. 27 (Yonhap) — LG Twins starter Adam Plutko had been a model of consistency in his first season in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), pitching at least five innings in his first 27 starts, before upper back spasms forced him out of a start on Sept. 25 early. Plutko never even threw a pitch, deciding to give the first batter of the game an intentional walk before being pulled. He finished with a 15-5 record and a 2.39 ERA.

LG Twins starter Adam Plutko (L) returns to the dugout after being pulled during the top of the second inning of Game 2 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason against the Kiwoom Heroes at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 25, 2022. (Yonhap)

Exactly a month later, Plutko made his next start, against the Kiwoom Heroes on Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-five postseason series. All that rest and extra work didn’t seem to have done Plutko any good, as he was shelled for six runs on eight hits in only 1 2/3 innings. The Twins lost that game 7-6.

Speaking to Yonhap News Agency on Thursday, before the Twins took on the Heroes for Game 3 at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Plutko said he had no physical issues whatsoever.

“I felt great. I think all the tracking numbers and all the data around the start support that,” Plutko said. “Kiwoom did a better job hitting than I did pitching.”

Plutko said he keeps a spreadsheet of pitching data for every start, including velocity, spin rates and vertical and horizontal movements for every pitch.

Though the results weren’t ideal, Plutko said he had “the best stuff I’ve had all season” in Tuesday’s game. Movements on his sliders and curveballs were sharper than they had been in the regular season, while the vertical break on his fastballs was also higher, meaning those pitches had late life around the plate. He also said the velocity figures were right around his season average or a bit higher than that.

“I had some insane numbers,” Plutko said. “They just put the bat on the ball. They beat me.”

One Kiwoom hitter, Lee Yong-kyu, got two singles off Plutko in two at-bats on first pitches, despite his well-established reputation as a pesky hitter who works deep into counts. Others also attacked Plutko early in the count.

Asked if he might have been tipping his pitches, Plutko said, “I don’t think there’s some conspiracy theory about what all went down. They just put the bat on the ball. That’s all there is to it.”