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Cardinals' Kim is off to an historic start in rookie campaign

The Cardinals' rookie from Korea has had quite the start to his Major League Career, putting up numbers that rival some all-time rookie debuts
Credit: AP
St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim throws during the first inning of the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday, Sept. 14, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

ST. LOUIS — This past offseason, the Cardinals didn't resign Marcell Ozuna. They didn't bring in any big bats (unless you're now counting Brad Miller.) They didn't sign any recognizable Major League arms for the bullpen or rotation.

What they did do is sign an unknown (to American baseball fans at least) lefty from Korea with a fun nickname and exciting talent on tape.

But even the most optimistic Cardinals fan probably didn't even envision just how good Kwang-Hyun Kim has been in his rookie season in St. Louis. The lefty from Korea has even been historic so far.

With his 7 shut out innings in Milwaukee on Monday, Kim has a 0.33 ERA in his first five career outings as a starting pitcher. That is the second-best ERA in a pitcher's first five career starts among all hurlers to debut since 1913, when ERA became an official stat in both leagues.

The only other rookie with a lower ERA through 5 starts? Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

But that's not Kim's only historic stat that jumps off the page.

With his impressive performance in Milwaukee, Kim became the first Cardinals starter with four consecutive games of 5 or more innings pitched and zero runs allowed since Hall of Famer Bob Gibson did it in 1968.

Not too shabby if it only takes you five career starts to get mentioned in the same breath as the greatest pitcher in Cardinals franchise history.

After starting the season as the team's closer and recording a save on opening day, Kim was eventually moved to the rotation, and now has a 0.63 ERA overall. 

He's missed some time due to injury and the strikeout numbers aren't eye-popping, but even with missed time he should still be near the top of the National League Rookie of the Year discussion along with the Marlins' Sixto Sanchez, Padres' Jake Cronenworth and Phillies' Alex Bohm among others.

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