By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- Three aces, including one American, have been nominated for the top pitching award in South Korean professional baseball.
Yang Hyeon-jong of the Kia Tigers, Kim Kwang-hyun of the SK Wyverns and Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears were announced as three nominees for the sixth annual Choi Dong-won Award.
The award, named after the late former star pitcher as an equivalent of the Cy Young Award, was created in 2014 to recognize the best homegrown pitcher in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). Foreign pitchers were considered for the honor for the first time last year, and Lindblom, a 32-year-old American, became the first non-Korean winner in 2018.
Yang was the inaugural winner in 2014 and earned his second award in 2017. Kim is going for his first Choi Dong-won Award this year.
The Choi Dong-won Memorial Foundation, which presents the award, said the three candidates met five of the seven criteria. The criteria are: at least 30 starts, 180 innings pitched, 12 wins, 150 strikeouts, 15 quality starts, a sub-3.00 ERA and 35 saves.
Yang, Lindblom and Kim ranked 1-2-3 in ERA with 2.29, 2.50 and 2.51, respectively. They all threw more than 180 innings, with Lindblom leading all pitchers with 194 2/3 innings.
Lindblom also topped the KBO with 20 wins and 189 strikeouts. Kim was 17-6 with 180 strikeouts, and Yang went 16-8 with 163 strikeouts.
Kim tied for the KBO lead with 24 quality starts -- with at least six innings pitched and no more than three earned runs allowed -- and Yang and Lindblom tied for third with 22 each.
In a major change for this year, the Choi Dong-won Memorial Foundation said it will let fans vote on the winner. Previously, the panel of judges as put together by the foundation determined the winner.
Starting this year, fan voting will account for 30 percent of the selection process, while the foundation's judges will make up the remaining 70 percent.
The judges will meet on Oct. 29, and the winner will be announced on Nov. 5. The award ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 11 in Busan, the late Choi's hometown located 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
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