I see many new faces. It is a battle between the 4th and 5th picks. It is an arena of fiercer competition for survival than anywhere else. These are the walls that must be overcome in order to survive.
On the 6th, when the last 3rd game of the 2023 KBO League’s first 3-game series will be held, a large number of new faces will appear as a starter.
In the 3 games that were canceled due to heavy rain the day before, the starting pitchers scheduled for the 4th will play as they were except for Moon Dong-ju, who was dropped as the 5th starter for the Hanwha Eagles.
However, in Jamsil (NC Dinos-Doosan Bears) and Gocheok (LG Twins-Kiwoom Heroes), where the game is balanced with 1 win and 1 loss, the new faces must compete fiercely for the 5th selection.
First, in Jamsil, Lee Jun-ho (NC), who has the honor of being the first to be selected among all newcomers this year, and Kim Dong-ju (Doosan), a ‘3rd year rookie’, will face each other.
Lee Jun-ho is a college graduate rookie who graduated from Gyeongnam High School and Sungkyunkwan University with the 54th rank in the 6th round of the 2023 rookie draft. Lee Jun-ho took a chance as the 5th starter when Taylor Widener, a new outsider who was picked as NC’s 2nd starter, withdrew from the starter due to a herniated disc prior to the start of the season. In the demonstration game, the average ERA of 2 games and 1 hold was 5.40, which was not very good.
Kim Dong-ju is a freshman in his third year. Last year, he played 10 games with only the bullpen in the first team and recorded 14 runs in 16⅔innings (7.66 ERA). It is his first time against NC and his first start since his debut.
They have already undergone internal competition through spring camp and demonstration games, but the pressure and tension are different when they start in the regular league for the first team. Depending on how you look, it can be a crossroads between getting more selection opportunities in the first team or going down to the Futures.
NC coach Kang In-kwon even said, “If Lee Jun-ho shows a bad performance in the beginning, I will put in Lee Yong-jun immediately.”
The match between Hanwha and Samsung in Daegu is one of the games of interest at the beginning of the season.
‘Hanwha’s future’ Dong-ju Moon, who has yet to take off his rookie tee, and Samsung veteran Baek Jeong-hyeon will start a match against each other.
These are completely opposite styles. If Moon Dong-joo is a style that pushes with power centered on fast balls that reach the mid-150km range, Baek Jung-hyun counters with sharp awls.
Moon Dong-ju, who has been training in earnest since the second half of last year, focused on gaining control of fast balls through spring camp and demonstration games, while improving the perfection of breaking balls such as the curve slider changeup. He is said to be the most powerful among the current Hanwha pitchers, and is virtually the same as the first starter.
Baek Jung-hyun, who confronts Moon Dong-ju, is literally a veteran of the Baekjeon. His main weapon is exquisite control and command across the strike board line rather than fast balls. After 13 consecutive losses last year, they rebounded with four consecutive wins. However, Baek Jung-hyun has a lot of home runs. In particular, in Daegu, which is a hitter-friendly stadium, you must be careful of one shot from Noh Si-hwan, Brian O’Grady, and Chae Eun-seong.
As much as Daegu Gyeonggi, Gocheok Gyeonggi also deserves attention, where Kang Hyo-jong and Jang Jae-young, who are in the first nomination in 2021, face each other.
Recognized for his potential, Jang Jae-young, who has accumulated a lot of experience as a starting pitcher and bullpen over the past two years, has suffered from chronic control despite fast balls. However, he finished his starting class for Geelong Korea in the Australian League this season and played in three exhibition games, showing good results with an ERA of 3.00 and an average of 1 win and 1 loss. 안전놀이터
His start is only 571 days after the match against Lotte on September 12, 2021, and he challenges his first win in the 34th game of his professional career.
Against this, Kang Hyo-jong’s only first-team record was a starting matchup with NC’s foreign pitcher Matt Dermody on October 7 last year. At that time, he became the winning pitcher with 5 hits and 2 runs in 5 innings (average ERA of 3.60).
LG coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop said of Kang Hyo-jong, who became the winning pitcher by blocking 4 innings, 3 hits, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts and 1 run in an exhibition game against kt on the 23rd of last month, “It was impressive to see him stealing the timing of kt batters by throwing various breaking balls. Today, Kang Hyo-jong was confirmed as the 5th starter,” showing strong faith.
In addition, in Suwon, KIA Yang Hyeon-jong and kt Bossulseo will face off.
Yang Hyeon-jong left only one win in the previous 160 wins, following Song Jin-woo (former Hanwha, 210 wins) and Jung Min-cheol (former Hanwha, 161 wins). It is a meaningful record challenge.
Against this, at kt, Bo Schulser, who came in as a substitute for Audrey Samer Despine, is the starter. In kt, Wes Benjamin, the first foreign starter, won the victory with perfect pitching in the opening match. If Schulser settles his position with an outsider one-two punch, he can form the best pitching depth among the 10 clubs.
In literature, Lotte’s Charlie Barnes and SSG’s Moon Seung-won face off against each other.
Barnes recorded 7 wins and 5 losses until June, including 6 wins as soon as he started last year. Against SSG, he pitched well enough to record an ERA of 2.20 with 1 win and 1 loss in 2 games. Although the demonstration game was somewhat slow, it is worth looking forward to considering the fact that it was strong at the beginning of the season.
After undergoing elbow surgery and rehabilitation, Moon Seung-won, who returned last summer and played only in the bullpen, will start this year. It is the first time since the start against Hanwha on May 30, 2021. Last year, against Lotte, he played 3 games and threw 2⅔ innings, giving up 6 runs, which was not good.