KIA, which is still in 6th place without recovering the 50% win rate, reversed the falling trend by recording 6 wins and 4 losses in the second half. Securing a winning series in the bloody battle against Samsung held in Pohang from the 1st to the 3rd was also a factor that could relieve a sigh안전놀이터.
With Na Seong-beom and Kim Do-young all returning from injuries, the batting line, which has virtually reached full strength, is gaining strength. KIA, which was one of the best batting lines in the league last year, regained its dignity by recording a team batting average of 0.292 and a team OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.818 in 10 games in the second half. It was positive that it led to the confidence of the entire team that ‘even if we lose, we can turn over at any time’. It was the same at the Pohang Samsung Exhibition on the 3rd. The batting line, which scored 12 points and gained strength, has many encouraging elements.
But even in the midst of this, there are things to be concerned about. It’s the bullpen that looks tired. The KIA bullpen, which self-confessed that ‘depth’ has become stronger with the addition of expected resources before the season, clearly achieved its own results in the first half. Considering that key bullpen pitchers such as Jung Hae-young, Jeon Sang-hyun, and Kim Ki-hoon went down to the 2nd team to adjust their performance and stayed there for quite a while, it was more positive.
The KIA bullpen threw a total of 289 innings in 76 games in the first half, recording an ERA of 3.27. It was a league-leading performance that was much better than the league average bullpen ERA (4.11) during this period. It wasn’t just a result of luck. The bullpen batting average of 0.238 in the first half was also second in the league.
It was a trend that could collapse due to Jung Hae-young’s departure at the end and the sluggish performance of the Pil Seung-jo, but Lim Ki-young and Choi Ji-min played a brilliant role and prevented it. Ki-Young Lim pitched 51 innings in 33 games, recording an ERA of 2.65, and served as a pillar.
However, there was a lot of reliance on a specific player, and there were concerns about the appointment of several players according to the situation without clearly standing the position of the Pilseungjo and the pursuit team. In fact, Lim Ki-young pitched 51 innings and Choi Ji-min pitched 42⅓ innings, while all other players pitched less than 30 innings. Jeon Sang-hyun (27⅔ innings) was the only pitcher who threw more than 25 innings. Physical strength management was a variable, but problems are emerging in the second half. Obviously, the KIA bullpen is getting tired.
The KIA bullpen recorded an average ERA of 5.23 in 10 games in the second half until the 3rd. In terms of ERA alone, the best bullpen in the first half fell to 6th place in the league, and is recording less than the average (4.49). Although there are not enough samples in the second half yet, Choi Ji-min’s performance has dropped significantly, and Lee Jun-young and Jang Hyeon-shik, who were once frequently called up in the first half, are not free from controversy over poor pitch. Jung Hae-young, who has been reassigned to the finishing position, is also reluctant to show anxiety.
KIA, which has a roadmap of recovering the 50% win rate and re-entering the round of 5, has relatively little room compared to the top teams. There is an all-out battle to win every game. As there are more close games, more bullpen pitchers are being put in compared to the first half. In the second half, KIA puts in 5.3 pitchers per game, which is second only to Samsung (5.75). When the innings are cut short, there are many players who come out.
Lim Ki-young, who is being put in as the most reliable player regardless of the situation, appeared in 7 out of 10 games played by the team in the second half, and Jeon Sang-hyun also played in 7 games. Jung Hae-Young, Choi Ji-Min, and Lee Jun-Young also appeared in more than half of the total games by participating in 6 games. On the contrary, Kim Ki-hoon played in one game and Jang Hyun-sik played in three games, so there is a deviation. In this way, certain players have no choice but to repeat the pattern of being tired.
If you get tired, your pitch drops, if your pitch drops, you can’t handle innings stably, you have to play a winning game, so you change pitchers again, and when bullpen pitchers travel frequently, a vicious circle of exhaustion is slowly emerging. There are already many games canceled due to rain in the first half, so the remaining games are the KIA with the most in the league. In other words, the possibility that a tired bullpen will become a big variable at the end of the season continues to grow.
In order to save the bullpen, it is basic that the starter should throw well and the other line should do it from the beginning of the game, but KIA is a team that has these two elements to some extent. The number of starting pitching innings is not that small, and the batting line is breaking out well. So the anxiety of the bullpen right now is unusual. If the vicious cycle is not broken quickly, physical fitness problems will snowball and plague KIA. What is the answer that the KIA coaching staff thinks?