Starting lineup to infield all shaken up… Tigers in crisis, hazard lights on ahead of AG

It’s a bizarre ‘streak hangover’.

The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) KIA is going through a heavenly and hellish stretch at the end of the season. The team screamed with happiness when they won nine games in a row from last month’s 24th game against KT Suwon to the 6th game against Doosan in Jamsil. The nine-game winning streak, the first in 10 years since June 2013, has greatly improved their chances of advancing to the fall baseball season. KIA’s highest winning percentage (0.533) and largest win-loss margin (+7) this season also came right then.메이저사이트

There were concerns. This season, it’s been common for teams to go on winning streaks and then fizzle out. This was the case with Hanwha in June after an eight-game winning streak and Doosan in July after an 11-game winning streak. The question was whether KIA would be able to avoid the ‘streak hangover’.

After the streak ended, the team lost two straight games. However, they made up for it with three straight wins, seemingly screaming ‘we are different’. However, unexpected injury variables, along with a steady stream of nagging concerns, exploded together and caught KIA off guard.

An injury to career-high shortstop Park Chan-ho created a butterfly effect, as he was replaced by Lee Chang-jin after injuring his left finger while sliding into first base on a head-first slide at Daegu Samsung Electronics on April 12. A medical examination revealed ligament damage to the fourth finger and a three-week rehabilitation. Considering the fierce last-place battle, KIA decided to utilize him as an infielder and pinch-hitter without expunging him.

However, the leadoff gap was not easily filled, as Park was batting .302 (125-for-414) with a .358 on-base percentage. Kia manager Kim Jong-kook turned to Kim Do-young, a second-year pro who had always played third base, but he couldn’t handle the pressure. In three games at shortstop, Kim was silent, going 0-for-11 in 12 at-bats.

That’s not all. Kim Do-young’s move to shortstop exposed weaknesses in the defense of Choi Jeong-yong and Byun Woo-hyuk, who were inserted into the hot corner. Crying and eating mustard, Kim is faced with the dilemma of moving Kim Do-young back to third base, which will inevitably weaken his offense.

Even the shaky starting pitching staff is in trouble. The last pitcher to pitch a quality start (six innings or more and three earned runs or less) was Yang Hyun-jong against Doosan in Jamsil on July 7 (two runs in six innings). The team has been shaken by injuries and poor form of key players. Substitute starters Hwang Dong-ha and Kim Geon-guk are struggling to keep up with the first team. The return of Mario Sanchez and Lee Yi-ri from injury is good news, but don’t expect a quick turnaround.

With the Hangzhou Asian Games just around the corner, the variables are even greater. In addition to Lee’s absence from the starting lineup, the collapse of the starting mound also means the loss of Choi Ji-min from an overloaded bullpen. The batting lineup will be without Choi Won-jun. The departures were expected, but there was no clear plan in place. The final hurdle for KIA to overcome in order to advance to the fall baseball season has arrived.

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