The KIA Tigers have dropped a number of key players from the first team, including foreign pitchers and relievers. It’s a strong message from manager Kim Jong-kook to shake up the team.
On April 29, the Tigers designated pitchers Sean Anderson, Jung Hae-young, and Kim Dae-yu, and infielders Hwang Dae-in and Yoon Do-hyun from the first team, with Anderson and Jung Hae-young, who should have their front and back doors locked, going to the second team.
Anderson was a promising starter for KIA this season, going 3-2 with a 2.58 ERA in six games in April. But in May, he suddenly went into a slump, losing three games and posting a disastrous 7.71 ERA in four starts. The team decided to give him a break from the starting rotation.
Jung Hae-young also struggled throughout May and was eventually sent to the second team. He struggled with his velocity from the start of the season and struggled with hitters. His average velocity dropped from 144 km/h last year to 141.1 km/h this year, according to baseball stats site Statiz. The drop in velocity and command made him uncompetitive, and his ERA spiked to 4.26 in May.
Kim Jong-kook hasn’t made any roster changes in the past, even when his starters have struggled. He usually trusts his players and waits for them to rebound. The same was true for Anderson and Jung Hae-young.
However, the slump didn’t improve over time, and KIA’s performance gradually went downhill. With a winning percentage of just 4 percent (8-11-0.421) in May and a ranking of sixth, coach Kim Jong-guk decided to give the underperforming players time to regroup.
It was not an easy decision to leave out many of the main players in the midst of a fierce battle for the top spot, but it was necessary to shake things up. For the existing players, it’s a shock therapy to get them back into fighting shape.
Now, the team needs to find alternatives to fill the void left by the departed players. First and foremost, the mound is in need of a transfusion.
Anderson’s departure leaves a starting void that can be filled by Kim Ki-hoon and Lim Ki-young. Both are currently working out of the bullpen, but both have starting experience and are good enough alternatives.
However, if one of them were to move to the starting rotation, the bullpen could be weakened and a different choice could be made. In this case, the best performing pitcher in the Futures (secondary) team going through the starting class could be the backup starter.
Choi Ji-min, a second-year pro, could take over the closer’s role. Choi has come into her own this season, posting a 1.07 ERA in 21 games, making her one of the best set-up men in the league. He also picked up one save, showing his potential as a closer. 안전놀이터
However, given Choi’s lack of experience as a closer, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be able to handle the pressure of a big game. Considering this, there’s a chance that the team could switch to a collective closing system where Pil Seung-jo is used as a closer depending on the situation.
We don’t know how long it will take for Anderson and Jung to find their form. Until then, the mission of the KIA mound is to hold on. The team did a good job of filling the injury gaps of Na Sung-bum and Kim Do-young at the beginning of the season, maintaining a mid-table finish. Now that they’ve lost two of their biggest pillars, it will be interesting to see what they come up with.