Once a front-runner, SSG Landers is faltering. Their second place is now in jeopardy.
SSG lost 4-7 against the Lotte Giants of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan at 6:30 p.m. on April 16. SSG, which lost its second straight game, remained in second place with 55 wins, 1 draw and 43 losses.
SSG struggled with starting pitcher Jong-hoon Park’s control of his pitches on the day. Jong-hoon gave up a whopping nine wild pitches by the fifth inning. The bats battled back with four runs, but ultimately lost the game to Lotte.
With the loss, SSG’s winning percentage in the second half is now 0.450 (9-11). This is a far cry from their second place finish in the first half.
First, there’s the shaky starting pitching. Currently, SSG has five starters: Kirk McCarty, Kim Kwang-hyun, Ronis Elias, Park Jong-hoon, and Oh Won-seok.
Among them, Elias has been up and down every game. His season record is 5-5 with a 4.10 ERA, which is disappointing for a foreign pitcher. His main weapon, the changeup, has been struggling with a 0.365 batting average (according to Statistic).
Another starter, Jong-hoon Park, has been plagued by velocity issues all season. In 16 starts, he has only one no-hitter (against the Hanwha Eagles on July 29). His ERA has reached a whopping 5.61. With two of their starting five shaky, SSG is struggling to rely on a solid starting lineup like they did earlier in the season.
The bats have also been quiet. First, Guillermo Heredia, who had been the patriarch of the team with a .332 OPS, .888 slugging percentage, 11 home runs, and 58 RBIs, is out for the month of August with a strained iliopsoas muscle.
After an MVP-caliber first half with a .311 batting average, .973 OPS, 19 homers and 58 RBIs, Choi has hit just two home runs in the second half. Ha Jae-hoon, who was hot at the end of the first half, also went cold in the second half.
While SSG is struggling in the second half of the season with both batters struggling, KT WIZ is hitting like crazy. After falling to the bottom of the standings at the beginning of the season, KT WIZ has been on a tear since June. Their -14 win-loss margin is now +10. Their second-half winning percentage (0.818) is the best in the KBO. 메이저놀이터
The gap between the two teams has narrowed to just one game. Given the current rise of the KT Wiz and the decline of SSG, SSG’s second-place finish is in doubt.
Last year, SSG became the first team in Korean baseball to win a wire-to-wire title, but now their second place is in jeopardy and their chances of winning the title for the second year in a row are in doubt.