After a rough June, July has been just as rough. While the starting lineup has stabilized, the bullpen has struggled.
The Lotte Giants’ April was all about the bullpen, and May was all about a different starting rotation. However, the bullpen is crumbling in the heat of the season.
Through eight days, Lotte’s bullpen ERA is 5.20, the lowest among the 10 teams. Since June, the ERA is a whopping 6.22.
There is no clear favorite. Set-up man Koo Seung-min, who is in front of closer Kim Won-joong, has a 6.08 ERA since June and a 6.52 ERA in his last 10 games. The struggles of Kim Sang-soo, who led the “momentum” at the beginning of the season, and Kim Jin-wook, who was part of the best pitching staff, are even worse. Closer Kim Won-joong (2.25) is the only one keeping up appearances, while Choi Yi-jun (1.74) and Jin Seung-hyun (3.14), who are often used in close games, are the others.
After snapping a six-game losing streak, the bullpen collapsed against the LG Twins in Busan on Aug. 8, leading to a series of runs. After eight consecutive quality starts (six or more innings and three or fewer earned runs), home fans had high hopes for Austin.
Despite giving up three hits, including a home run to Austin, the game was tied 3-3 through five innings. Park gave up one more run in the sixth before being pulled with runners on first and third.
After Park’s strong outing, things fell apart quickly. Kim Jin-wook singled to drive in both of Park’s successors, and in the seventh inning, Jung Sung-jong and Shim Jae-min were both hit by pitch to give up a whopping six runs.
On the other hand, the difference in the starting lineup since May is reflected in the bullpen’s innings pitched. With 257⅔ innings, Lotte’s bullpen has logged the fewest innings among the 10 clubs. While it’s part of manager Larry Sutton’s style to stretch out starts, the flip side is that the bullpen isn’t as reliable. The starting staff ranks fourth overall and fifth since June.
Park Se-woong and Na Kyun-an have been solid, and Barnes is slowly regaining his footing. If Stratton rebounds and Lee In-bok repeats his form from last year, they have the potential to move up the standings. But without a solid bullpen to back them up, the starters are bound to get impatient.
Add to that the fact that they already have 11 rainouts on their plate. They won’t be back in action until September 10, but Lotte will be without Park Se-woong and Na Kyun-an, who are both called up to the Hangzhou Asian Games squad. While it’s good for both the team and the players if they perform well, it’s frustrating if it’s limited to this season.
The team will be called up around Sept. 22-24 for a few days of domestic training before traveling to Hangzhou to play baseball at the Asian Games on Oct. 1-7. The rainy season is just beginning. There will no doubt be more rainouts in July and August.토토사이트
Lotte will have to rely on closers Kim Won-joong and Han Hyun-hee, who will rotate between the bullpen and the pen, and the returning Choi Jun-yong. The road to a top-three finish in the regular season is a thorny one that only gets tougher in the second half of the season.