카지노Kia had been waiting for June all season. So did the coaching staff, so did the fans. The team had some big names returning to the lineup. The excitement wasn’t misplaced; there were good reasons for it.
First, outfielder Choi Won-jun, 26, was scheduled to be discharged on June 15 after completing his military service in the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce). He had clearly demonstrated his strengths before enlisting. He had the batting talent to hit triples and the quick feet to steal 40 bases. All parties had high hopes for him as a player who would bring the dynamism that KIA lacked.
From the end of June, Na Sung-beom (34), a signature hitter, and Kim Do-young (20), the team’s top prospect, were scheduled to join the team sequentially. Na Sung-bum, who joined the team last year after signing a massive six-year, 15 billion won ($15 million) free-agent (FA) contract, made his mark in his first year, with a healthy dose of high-level class. He played the role of “fixer and coordinator in the center field” that the team wanted. He didn’t play a single game due to a calf injury before the season, which was a big plus for him this season.
Then there’s Kim Do-young, who was voted the player who improved the most last winter and is a talent that the entire KBO League is watching closely. The explosively athletic Kim broke his metatarsal while running the bases in Incheon’s opening series and underwent long-term rehabilitation. However, we’ve seen a lot of improvement in his game and his overall versatility, so we’re excited to see what he can bring to the team right away, both as a long hitter and a mobile player.
The three players were staggered in joining the team’s full roster. Choi Won-jun reported to the first team on June 16, shortly after his discharge from the military. Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young joined the first team at the same time on June 23, just as key bullpen pitchers who had been sent down to the second team for performance adjustments were returning to the first team one by one to fulfill their missions. Even though Kim Sun-bin was sidelined with an injury, there was a consensus that it was time for the team to play with full strength.
However, there was also a sense of caution inside and outside of KIA, saying, “We shouldn’t expect the team’s performance to improve significantly just because the reinforcements are back.” There were definitely concerns about the mound strength, not only from the outside, but also from within. We started to have problems on the mound, and we saw some strange trends.
The starters were falling apart. Foreign pitcher Adonis Medina is on the shelf due to injury. Yoon Young-cheol is a rookie who needs to be rested, Lee Yi-ri hasn’t been able to digest innings, and Shawn Anderson has had his share of issues. As a result, the bullpen’s workload has been growing since May. The need to save games led to a tendency to split innings and use a lot of bullpen pitchers, and overall, the team’s mound struggled.
The addition of Na Sung-beom, Kim Do-young, and Choi Won-jun certainly helps in terms of adding power and dynamism to the team’s lineup. Over the course of a full season, the extra wins they can add could be a few. However, unless they can clone Na Sung-bum into a nine-man lineup, they won’t be able to get him on base every chance they get, and they won’t always be able to produce explosive offense in their batting, which has been dubbed the “three-for-three aesthetic”.
At the end of the day, the mound is the most important thing in a long game, and the worst-case scenario is that the mound is spread out as the supporters arrive. There is no synergy.
In the end, even after the addition of Na Sung-beom Kim Do-young, KIA remained 1-3. This is because even though Na’s performance wasn’t that bad, they couldn’t solve the problems on the mound. During this period, KIA’s team ERA was 6.31. They gave up 6.5 runs per game, and with numbers like that, it’s very hard to get a winning percentage above 5%.
There was one bullpen day, but even if you take that out of the equation, the starting pitching wasn’t quite as good, and the team used all of its bullpen with or without a lead, but couldn’t get a win. There was a noticeable leakage of mound power across the board, with a significant number of runs given up on defensive errors. Meanwhile, KIA dropped to eighth place and is now half a game behind ninth-place Hanwha.
The problem is, there are no guarantees that things will get better. Medina’s replacement, a foreigner, hasn’t even been signed yet. They’ll be lucky to get back on track at the start of the second half. Lee will also miss one rotation due to a 28-day suspension. That’s not to say we don’t have plenty of alternatives. Given the closeness of the race, a few bullpen arms who have already pitched a lot can only realistically help keep the bullpen from running out of gas. The KIA mound, and the team, is facing its biggest test of the season.