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World Series 2001
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11/02/2001 07:35 PM ET
Leach: Reasons not to go with Kim
Matt Williams (left) and Rod Barajas console Kim after he surrendered a ninth-inning homer to Scott Brosius.
Pretty much everyone agrees, it seems, that Bob Brenly made the wrong decision to go with Byung-Hyun Kim in Game 5 of the World Series on Thursday night. The disagreement seems to be over the reason why it was the wrong decision.

Of course, the Yankees shellacked Kim in Game 4, and that's one good reason. He threw 62 pitches in Game 4, and that seems like another. And then there's Kim's sidearm style, which gets easier to hit the more you see it (according to conventional wisdom).

If you look at Kim's performance this year, some of those reasons look more convincing than others. He was fairly resilient, bouncing back very nicely after long outings, and rebounding reasonably well after taking a beating.

Kim pitched more than once in 26 different series in 2001. When facing a team for the second time in a series, his numbers suffered a bit from his overall averages, but still were quite good. He made 28 second (and third) appearances in those series, pitching 32 innings. He allowed just 20 hits (.63 per inning, slightly worse than his overall average), 11 walks (.34 per inning, much better than his overall average) and posted a 3.38 ERA (a bit worse than his 2.94 season mark).


The one thing that really showed when Kim pitched against a team for the second time was the longball. He gave up five homers in those 32 innings, as opposed to five in 66 innings the rest of the year. Most memorably, he allowed back-to-back homers to Larry Walker and Todd Helton, the first two batters he faced, to lose to Colorado on Sept. 18. He had retired the Rockies in order in the previous game. It was only the second time in his career that Kim allowed two homers in a game.

There's really no comparison in Kim's career to his return after throwing 62 pitches. He had never returned the day after throwing more than 33 in a game. However, there were six times in 2001 that he pitched the day after throwing 25 or more. And in those outings, he was superb. He lasted 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit and one walk, and no runs. It's important to emphasize, however, that there's an enormous difference between throwing 30 pitches and throwing 60 -- especially 30 high-stress, high-effort pitches in the late innings of a World Series game.

Still, it seems that the problem may be more mental than physical. Kim fared much worse the day after a bad outing than he did on the season as a whole. In his return to the mound after giving up two or more runs, his ERA was 3.52. He walked six batters in 15 1/3 innings, and struck out just nine. His baserunner ratio was 1.24, well above his overall rate of 1.04.

Of course, all of the factors were at play in this situation. Kim was pitching against a team he had already seen recently, a day after throwing 62 pitches, a day after getting knocked around. He was likely physically tired, and almost certainly shaken emotionally. It's hard to imagine Mariano Rivera coming back after a night like Wednesday -- never mind a talented, but still developing, young pitcher like Kim.

Matthew Leach is editor-at-large for

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.