After falling to last place (10th), Kiwoom Heroes lost their rebounding momentum. Even the starting lineup, which was one of the best in the top 10, collapsed.
Kiwoom fell to the bottom of the leaderboard for the first time in 835 days, since April 27, 2021, with an 8-12 loss to the Gocheok Lotte Giants on April 10. It’s a total mess. The offense has fallen off a cliff since losing leadoff hitter Lee Jung-hoo to a left ankle injury last month. The bullpen, which was shaky throughout the regular season, has been outscored by six runs (6.87) in August. Kiwoom has just three wins, one tie and 14 losses in 18 games since the 23rd of last month.
Kiermaier was held together by the strength of his starting lineup in the first half. By May, Lee Jung-hoo’s batting struggled and the bullpen was shaky after the team traded set-up man Kim Tae-hoon. Injuries were also plentiful.
During this time, Ahn Woo-jin, Eric Yokish, Ariel Hurtado, and Choi Won-tae, the 1-4 starters, stepped up. In the first half of the year, Kiwoom led the team in ERA (3.29) and quality starts (QS-6+ innings, 3 earned runs or less) (56). Lee’s batting revival in June pushed him up to 5th.
As of August, Ki has disappeared from “starting baseball. The cracks began with the departure of “longevity foreign pitcher” Yokishi, who left his last start against the LG Twins on June 6 and never returned. He was diagnosed with a left adductor tear, and the team decided to replace him in order to compete in the standings.
In his place, Ian McKinney made his KBO debut on June 25 against the Doosan Bears. He pitched four innings and gave up two runs. He then showed promise by earning QS against the SSG Landers on July 1 and Doosan on July 7. However, in his last four appearances, he gave up more than four runs. On the 6th, he gave up 8 runs in 3 and 2/3 innings against the NC Dinos, and on the 12th, he gave up 5 runs in 5 innings against the LG Electronics.
The fourth starter, Choi Won-tae, was transferred, further weakening the starting lineup. Kiwoom released Choi on March 29 in exchange for promising outfielder Lee Ju-hyung, pitcher Kim Dong-gyu and a rookie draft pick (first round, 2024). Veteran pitcher Chung Chan-hun filled the void left by Choi’s departure, but he was unable to keep up with the offense’s generous run support against the Lotte Giants on Tuesday, giving up five runs in three and two-thirds innings. 메이저놀이터
Ace Ahn Woo-jin was given a brief rest after being removed from the first team roster on the 9th due to a dulling of his end of the ball due to declining stamina. Third-year prospect Jang Jae-young has gone more than five innings in each of his last two outings and hasn’t allowed more than four runs, but his inconsistency is still an issue. The only other pitcher that makes sense is Hurado.
The departure of Choi Won-tae, who used to pitch six innings per game, has increased the pressure on other starters. Not only the bullpen, but also the starting pitchers were under pressure to pitch more innings. These factors have a significant impact on team morale and performance. The cascading effect is inevitable. Kiwoom’s starters posted a 5.86 ERA in the second half, ranking 10th in the league in that category.