It may not be without landmines in the future race, but considering the team’s performance so far is good, the team’s strength is relatively solid, and the team’s main players, including Yang Hyun-jong, Choi Hyung-woo and Na Sung-beom, have to challenge for the championship before they get older, one may expect a bold move to win. Examples include trade to fill the team’s weaknesses and poor replacement of foreign players.

In fact, KIA had its own fun by recruiting closing pitcher Kim Se-hyun ahead of the trade deadline when it won its last championship in 2017. At that time, KIA had a weakness that the end of the bullpen must-win group, which was led by Kim Yoon-dong and Lim Chang-yong, was a bit loose, and although its performance was low, it boldly made a 2-to-2 trade to recruit Kim Se-hyun, who had a career as the king of salvation.

Kim’s finishing touch was not perfect, but it was clear that he contributed to his team’s keeping the No. 1 position in the regular season by recording eight saves and an ERA of 3.43 in 21 games since his transfer to Kia. Some critics say it was a waste of players who gave up right after the trade, but such regret has also been washed away by his first win since 2009. Some pointed out that the team had to run for the title anyway, and that some bleeding is inevitable in order to recruit Kim.

Until the beginning of the season, KIA officials were somewhat cautious about whether the number of wins in 2017 could be reproduced this year. The logic was that there was no need to make changes to the team that is doing well. The atmosphere was that we could judge over time. In fact, until then, KIA players did not have many positions that needed to be traded immediately. The fielders were the best in recent years, and the mound was judged to have reinforced the bullpen with high quality.

Recently, however, the outside world has changed a little bit. He is seeing holes in the mound. As the starting pitcher’s departure has been prolonged, the gap has widened considerably, and crucially, foreign pitcher Will Crow has collapsed due to ligament damage in his elbow, causing serious concern. Crow is considering replacement in the worst case scenario, but there are not many pitchers in the Major League market right now.

The bullpen, which seemed to have improved everything at the beginning of the season and increased the number of players that could be utilized, is also somewhat unstable. The ERA of the KIA bullpen for the month since April 20 is 5.18, which is below the league average of 5.05 during the period. Only closer Jung Hae-young (1.50) remains firmly in his position, but major bullpen pitchers such as Jang Hyun-sik (6.75), Kwak Do-gyu (4.50), and Jeon Sang-hyun (15.00) are seeing their performance decline gradually. Choi Jimin (2.70) also has a good ERA, but overall performance is not as good as last year. Lim Ki-young, who left the team due to flank injury in the early part of the season last year, is recovering his physical condition as a starter to fill the gap in Crow`s performance.

Then, how likely is Kia’s move to engage in a bullpen trade? Many officials predict that it is “yet.” Not a few players are waiting for the second tier team, as they can expect a rebound in their existing resources. However, the situation is different if this anxiety continues for another month. With fewer innings to play as the starting pitcher, it is also worrisome that the bullpen is burdened.

Since April 20, the KIA bullpen has played the third most innings (97 ⅓ innings) in the league. As bullpen pitchers take more mound and more innings to play, overall pitching capability of pitchers has declined, and bench management is getting headache. After all, it is hard to talk about starting pitchers and bullpen sessions alone. Ideally, this is the best option for pitchers to stay strong until the end of the season without making a trade deal. For this reason, Kia’s remaining month is drawing attention.

BY: 스포츠토토핫

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