KT Baseball needs its starting pitchers to do their part. With the revival of the starting pitching, the majesty of the favourites is finally starting to be felt.
KT won its first four-game winning streak of the season with a 5-2 victory over Samsung in the fifth game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on 27 April at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu. It’s been exactly 240 days since KT has tasted four straight wins since 29 September last year against LG Electronics in Jamsil. The previous longest winning streak was three games.
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 six wins and two losses in its last eight games to leap to ninth place (16 wins, two 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 on the 28th, they could be in sole possession of eighth place at most, and if they continue their current form, they could be in the mid-table race.토토사이트
KT, which has qualified for the autumn baseball for the last three years in a row, including the 2021 championship, was the favourite to win the 2023 season alongside LG and SSG. However, a rash of injuries derailed all 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 Soo-joon, Uhm Sang-baek, Hwang Jae-gyun, Park Byung-ho, and Choi Jung-ho went down with injuries one after another.
In fact, KT’s early-season injury woes are nothing new. Under Lee Kang-cheol, the team’s image as a slow starter was cemented by a particularly bad April. KT’s ability to emerge as a powerhouse in the face of such circumstances is due in large part to the starters’ kingdom that Lee has built. Even when the batting line-up was silent, even when there were injuries, the starting pitchers were always there to take centre stage. The reason KT is the favourite to win the title this year is because of their starting pitching.
This year, however, even the starting pitching made errors, leading to an unprecedented April and May. Following the early-season injury setbacks 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 provide an anchor, suffered a severe slump. Looking back at the last two months, there was virtually only one reliable pitcher, Ko Young-pyo. In the month from 20 April, KT won just three games (one draw and 19 losses) in 23 matches.
The recent eight-game upturn has also been closely linked to the starting pitching. Lee Kang-chul-ho’s starting pitching, the backbone of the team’s baseball, has been revitalised, and the team has been 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 cohesive. KT’s team ERA during this stretch is second (2.00) behind LG’s (1.97) and second (2.20) behind Lotte’s (2.36), even if you limit the staff to starters.
KT’s biggest harvest during the slump was the creation of a new pitching duo. 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 with the revival of the starting staff, their value has risen as of late. Two months into the season, Lee’s biggest strength, the mound, is finally being reckoned with.
With six wins in eight games, the troubled manager’s face has brightened. “The strength of our team is the mound. As the starting line-up has stabilised, the concentration of the fielders has also improved. Both pitchers and batters are more relaxed,” he said with a smile.