This is the Byung-Hyun Kim we all remember -- highly-touted closer for the Diamondbacks, potentially destroying his team's chances in the World Series against the Yankees by self-destructing in back-to-back games. It's hard to recall a Yankee who didn't hit a home run off of Kim that year. That's the dangerous thing about the postseason: more than anything you've done in your career, your playoff performances are what people will remember you by. It's the reason Josh Beckett, who like Ringo Starr always seems to have blisters on his fingers, is considered an elite pitcher despite having more than 10 wins once in his career (he's got 9 so far this season). Beckett beat the Yankees, in the Bronx, on baseball's biggest stage. Kim didn't.
But don't look now -- Kim went his second straight start without giving up a run yesterday, leading the Rockies to a 3-0 win over the Texas Rangers.
He's 5-4 with a 4.31 ERA so far this year -- not incredible numbers, but surprising given the fact that after his meltdown in the World Series the general consensus was that Kim didn't have the mental toughness to bounce back. The numbers seemed to prove it, once a shutdown submariner, Kim started delivering performances that were below average. But he's found his mojo with the Rockies, who are surprisingly one game above .500. Coors Field is seeing its reputation change -- it's no longer a hitter's dream. Rockies' pitchers have a 4.31 ERA at home with a 20-18 record, not great stats but a far cry from the terrors of Rockies' history.
Most of the turnaround has been attributed to the humidifying process the Rockies have been applying to the baseballs prior to game-time. This weighs them down, keeping them in the park. Supposedly. The team has another theory -- pitchers have been getting the ball down, forcing hitters to hit groundballs. And to think, all this time we were blaming it on the stadium, and it turns out Mike Hampton was just bad.