Manager Lee Kang-cheol joked during a briefing before Game 3 of the Korean Series on Nov. 11, when there was a long pause. It was a very disappointing series for KT to have one left-handed bullpen pitcher. We had 12 pitchers on the roster for the Korean Series and only one left-handed pitcher, Wes Benjamin, was a starter. However, our opponents had seven out of nine left-handed hitters in their starting lineup.굿모닝토토
While “lefty-righty” may not necessarily be true, it’s frustrating for managers to not have a single card to play to their relativity advantage.
KT used left-handed pitcher Seung-jo Hyun-woo in three of the four games to adequately shut down Doosan’s left-handed lineup in the 2021 Korean Series, but Hyun-woo was sidelined this year with an ankle injury after the May 23 game. Manager Lee Kang-cheol missed him throughout the series and vowed, “Next year, I’ll have to develop a left-handed bullpen pitcher somehow.”
While there is no game that is not regrettable as they finished as runners-up with a 1-4 record, Game 2 on the 8th will remain the most regrettable for KT. KT took advantage of LG starter Choi Won-tae’s uneven delivery in the first inning to take a 4-0 lead.
After taking the first game, they scored four runs in the first inning to start a winning streak, but LG’s brilliant bullpen gave them no chance to add to their lead.
LG turned to its bullpen in the top of the first inning. Lee Jung-yong (28 pitches in 1⅔ innings), Jung Woo-young (26 pitches in 1⅓ innings), Kim Jin-sung (13 pitches in 1⅔ innings), Baek Seung-hyun (22 pitches in 1⅔ innings), Yoo Young-chan (22 pitches in 2⅓ innings), Ham Duk-joo (11 pitches in 1 inning), and Go Woo-seok (10 pitches in 1 inning) combined for 8⅔ scoreless innings.
On offense, Austin Dean’s RBI single, Oh Ji-hwan’s solo shot, Kim Hyun-soo’s RBI double and Park Dong-won’s game-winning two-run homer followed. In the end, KT lost the game they thought they had all figured out, 4-5.
During the series, manager Lee Kang-cheol said that even for a team that came into the Korean Series with the No. 1 regular season ranking, it’s not easy for seven pitchers to go 8⅔ innings without giving up an earned run. “We played a bullpen game in the exhibition game. If one of the guys doesn’t break down, you can do it. But we didn’t have enough. The opponent comes out like that, so even if you try to use a substitute, it’s not easy because the pitcher is ready.”
“I think they used the most pitchers in the Korean Series so far. That’s what I remember. I don’t know who will win, but if LG wins, it will be a team that really uses a lot of pitchers and wins. Usually, winning teams only use five or six pitchers. Four starters, three in the middle,” he said. “It’s very rare to see a team like that waiting in the wings. Their depth is unbelievable. And they don’t have Adam Plutko.”
Lee was especially impressed with the performance of Yoo Young-chan, who was responsible for the most innings in the LG bullpen. “He kept pitching well,” Lee said. I think he had some strikeouts during the season, but he came out in the Korean Series as a standout, and he’s throwing the most innings (4⅓ innings in Game 2). Suddenly, he was like, “This is it.” He looked surprised.
Yoo also pitched 1⅔ innings of one-run ball in Game 5, when LG clinched the Korean Series title. His series total was three games, six innings, and one run. Along with Park Dong-won, he became the protagonist of the “10 million won private prize” announced by manager Yoon Kyung-yup. It is a reversal of fortune for the 31 million won a year player.