Running the bullpen too much, why KT was pushed to the brink

Running the bullpen too much, why KT was pushed to the brink

The relentless closing pitcher’s ‘turnaround’ ended up being a self-inflicted wound. The KT Wiz were pushed to the brink.

KT lost the fourth game of the best-of-seven Korean Series (KS-4) 4-15 at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon on April 11. After winning Game 1, the team lost three straight games and was in danger of losing the title.

The game was won by LG in the top of the fifth inning. With his team down 0-2, KT manager Lee Kang-chul immediately brought in Kim Jae-yoon (33) after starter Uhm Sang-baek gave up a walk to leadoff hitter Moon Sung-joo. Kim Jae-yoon is KT’s closer who recorded 32 saves in the regular season.

Manager Lee Kang-cheol’s choice ended in failure. Kim gave up a sacrifice bunt to Shin Min-jae and then a single to Hong Chang-ki. Park Hae-min and Kim Hyun-soo then struck out to end the inning, but were eventually pulled after Moon Bo-kyung hit a home run to left field with the bases loaded in the top of the sixth. From there, KT’s four bullpen pitchers gave up 10 runs.

Manager Lee Kang-cheol explained after the game why he brought in Kim Jae-yoon early, saying, “I couldn’t let the game (Game 4) slip away. I also wanted him to regain his confidence in a comfortable situation.”

Kim Jae-yoon was the losing pitcher in Game 3 the previous day (Oct. 10) after failing to complete his assignment. He took the mound in the top of the ninth inning with KT leading 7-5, but gave up a game-winning three-run homer to Oh Ji-hwan after putting runners on second and third.

In the top of the fifth inning of Game 4, Lee Kang-cheol saw defense as the first deciding factor and brought in a closer. At the same time, he wanted Kim Jae-yoon to pitch in a relatively comfortable situation rather than a tight game in the eighth or ninth inning. He knew he would need to be at his best for the rest of the series. 아톰카지노 도메인

It’s hard for a pitcher to get his mind right in a day after losing Game 3, and the opposing batters were confident against Kim Jae-yoon. Lee Kang-cheol may have looked too far and hoped for too much.

Lee’s utilization of Kim Jae-yoon was questionable throughout KS. In the first game, with a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, he brought in set-up man Park Young-hyun in defense. Park did his job and preserved the lead. After the game, manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “We prepared for an extra inning, and Young-hyun had already warmed up in the bullpen, so we put him in (at the end of the ninth).” For Kim Jae-yoon, it meant handing off his duties to a junior.

Kim Jae-yoon didn’t get the closer’s job in Game 2 either. He took the mound to face two batters (Moon Sung-joo and Shin Min-jae) in the bottom of the eighth inning after Park Dong-won hit a game-tying two-run homer to cut KT’s lead to one run (4-5).

Normally, you don’t bring in a closer in a losing situation. Kim also pitched in the fifth game of the playoffs. It’s not like he was out of shape.

After being one of the bullpen pitchers instead of the closer in Games 1 and 2, Jae-yoon didn’t get into a save situation until Game 3 against KS. In Game 4, he pitched the fifth inning, something he hadn’t done in the regular season.

This is how a short-season bullpen works, with two or three reliable pitchers going the entire series. KT’s bullpen operation in KS, which utilized the closer without publicity, seems to be more of a ‘rush’ than an ‘unusual use’.

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