Padres will face Kwang Hyun Kim in Game 1 against Cardinals

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

The Padres have ties to Cardinals pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim, who will reportedly start Game 1 in their best-of-three matchup.

In perhaps a surprising move, the Cardinals are going with Kwang Hyun Kim in Game 1 against the Padres on Wednesday. The 32-year-old lefty made his debut with the SK Wyverns of the KBO League in April 2007. After the 2014 season, he was made available to MLB teams, from which the Padres won the bidding for his services.

However, San Diego was unable to sign him, and he returned to the SK Wyverns until the Cardinals added him after the 2019 season on a two-year deal. The Cardinals plucked Miles Mikolas, another former Padres farmhand, from overseas a few years ago. They have been very good at finding these hidden gems, and it appears they have another in Kim.

He was added to the Cardinals 30-man roster to begin the year, making 8 appearances – including 7 starts – and posted a 1.62 ERA in 39.0 innings. Kim is not a big-time strikeout guy, but he generates a ton of groundballs and has been doing so, despite not having an elite fastball. His pitching arsenal consists of a four-seam, slider, curveball, and changeup.

Kim’s fastball yielded a .182 batting average this year while averaging 89.9 MPH in velocity. He complements his primary pitch with a very good slider-one that generated a .228 average and 14 of his 24 strikeouts on the season. And while he doesn’t use it as often, his changeup has yet to produce a hit, and he’s getting guys to swing-and-miss on it.

If the Padres are going to have success against Kim, they’ll have to watch for his curveballs. Kim threw his curveball 12 percent of the time, and opponents hit .375 off it. He doesn’t have an elite spin rate on the pitch, so the Padres will have to wait patiently for this pitch.

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Reviewing his gamelogs, Kim allowed a season-high 6 hits in his start against the Pirates on September 19. All of his starts came against NL Central opponents, and an argument can be made that he has yet to see an offense like the Padres. That said, San Diego will need to find their chances to score off Kim.