KT Baseball still needs its starting pitchers to do their job. With the starting pitching coming alive, the team is finally starting to look like a contender.
KT won its first four-game winning streak of the season with a 5-2 victory over Samsung in Game 5 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on Sept. 27 at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu. It’s been exactly 240 days since KT tasted a four-game winning streak since Sept. 29 last year against LG Electronics in Jamsil. The previous season’s longest winning streak was three.
The four-game winning streak shows that KT is on an upswing. KT, which until mid-May was more accustomed to losing streaks than winning streaks, has used a dominant winning percentage of 6-2-2 in its last eight games to leap to ninth place (16 wins, 2 draws and 26 losses) and trail eighth-place Kiwoom by 0.5 games and seventh-place Samsung by 1.5 games. Depending on the outcome of Samsung’s game on the 28th, they could be in sole possession of eighth place at most, and if they keep up their current form, they could be in the mid-table race.
KT, which has advanced to fall baseball for the last three consecutive years, including the 2021 title, was considered a favorite to win the 2023 season along with LG and SSG. However, a rash of injuries derailed all of their plans and they fell to the bottom of the standings. Starting with Kim Min-soo and Joo Ju-kwon, the team was unable to operate at full strength as key players such as Choi Sang-joon, Uhm Sang-baek, Hwang Jae-gyun, Park Byung-ho, and Choi Soo-ho went down with injuries one after another.
In fact, KT’s early-season injury woes are nothing new. Since Lee took over as head coach, the team’s April injuries have solidified its image as a slow starter. KT’s ability to thrive in the face of such circumstances is due in large part to the starting lineup that Lee has built. Even when the batting lineup was silent, even when there were injuries, the starting pitchers were always there, holding down the fort. KT was the favorite to win the title this year because of their starting pitching.
This year, however, even the starting pitching has been error-prone, leading to an April and May unlike any other. Following the early season losses of Choi Min-joon and Uhm Sang-baek, the returning Choi Min-joon was ruled out for the season with elbow surgery, and the one-two punch of Wes Benjamin-Bo Schuler, which was supposed to be the centerpiece of the rotation, suffered a severe slump. Looking back at the last two months, there was virtually only one reliable pitcher, Ko Young-pyo. In the month of April 20, KT won just three games (one tie and 19 losses) in 23 games 메이저사이트.
The recent eight-game upswing is also closely related to the starting pitching. The starting pitching, the backbone of Lee Kang-chul-ho’s baseball, has been revitalized, and the team is performing well enough to be a top-three contender. The rotation of Uhm Sang-baek, Choi Ji-seong, Benjamin, Schoeller, and Ko Young-pyo finally feels like it’s starting to gel. KT’s team ERA during this stretch is second (2.00) behind LG (1.97) and second (2.20) behind Lotte (2.36), even if you limit the staff to starters.
KT’s biggest harvest during the slump was the creation of a new pitching staff. In the absence of Joo Kwon and Kim Min-soo, a new face, Son Dong-hyun, has emerged to form a winning combination with Park Young-hyun and Kim Jae-yoon. And as the starters have come alive as of late, their value has risen as well. Two months into the season, Lee’s biggest strength, the mound, is starting to pay off.
With six wins in eight games, the troubled manager’s face has brightened. “The strength of our team is the mound,” Lee said. As the starting lineup has stabilized, the concentration of the fielders has also improved. Both pitchers and batters are more relaxed,” Lee said with a smile.