As the season comes to a close, the ‘first place’ LG Twins have been hit with some bad news. Adam Plutko, one of the pillars of the team’s starting rotation, has been lost to injury. This is actually the biggest crisis of the second half. How will LG overcome this crisis?
The LG Twins were scheduled to open the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on April 30, but the game was canceled due to pre-game rain, giving them a second day off. The canceled game will be rescheduled at a later date.
LG was originally scheduled to start Lee Jung-yong against Doosan in Jamsil on the previous day (29th), but it was canceled due to rain. They tried to start Lee on the 30th, but it was also canceled. For now, LG decided to start foreign ace Casey Kelly against Doosan on the 31st. The Doosan Bears will start their homegrown ace Kwak Bin.
The LG Twins have been synonymous with preparedness this season. Their biggest crisis came at the beginning of the season, in April, when their starting rotation nearly collapsed. Adam Plutko, the team’s all-time leader in wins for the first half of the season, and Chan-gyu Lim, the team’s native ace. In fact, these two pitchers led the way in the starting rotation, doing their jobs well. Plutko started all 17 games in the first half of the season, posting an impressive 11-1 record with a 2.21 ERA. Chan-kyu Lim also had a strong first half, going 6-2 with a 3.19 ERA in 17 games. He started out as a long reliever, but has since moved into the starting rotation amidst the departures of established starters.
Kelly, on the other hand, started 18 games in the first half of the year, going 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA. In the second half, Kelly is 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA in six starts. Add to that the fact that Lee Min-ho and Kim Yoon-sik, who were projected as the third and fourth starters, respectively, before the season started, have not been able to find their form.
If the bullpen faltered as well, LG would have been in trouble from the start of the season. In fact, there was a crisis. The traditional pitching trio of Lee Jung-yong, Jeong Woo-young, and Woo-seok were unable to perform due to slumps and injuries. Jung Woo-young was a shadow of his former self in the first half of the season, going 2-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 41 games with 11 holds. Jung’s early-season struggles were not unexpected, as he was 7-3 with a 2.22 ERA and 27 saves in 2021 and 2-3 with a 2.64 ERA and 35 saves in 2022. Lee also had a 3-1 record with a 5.90 ERA and three saves in 26 games in the first half. Since being fitted with a forkball on the advice of the coaching staff, Lee has gone 2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in four games. Go Woo-seok pitched only 19⅓ innings (20 games) in the first half of the season, still dealing with the aftermath of his World Baseball Classic (WBC) shoulder injury.
Still, LG was able to hold on and take the lead because of its preparation. The LG coaching staff had prepared a “Plan B” of Ham Deok-ju, Park Myung-geun, and Young-chan during spring training last winter, and they filled the gaps in the existing pitching staff. Ham Deok-ju was reliable with a 3-0 record, 3 saves, and 12 holds with a 1.28 ERA, while Park Myung-geun was outstanding with a 4-0 record, 5 saves, and 5 holds with a 3.25 ERA. Yoo Young-chan was also good, going 4-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four appearances. LG survived the early collapse of the starting lineup with a “bullpen day” that saw them step up. They were prepared.
LG preparing for 2023, Plutko’s departure a ‘crisis’ → How to overcome this time
LG was once again faced with bad news. It is the departure of Fluteco. After pitching four innings and one run against the NC Dinos on the 26th, Plutko walked off the mound on his own, and after a medical examination, he was diagnosed with a left pelvic contusion. He was told he would be out four to five weeks. At this point, if he goes through the normal rehabilitation process, he could be available for the final stretch of the pennant race. However, if he doesn’t push himself too hard, he could be back for the postseason.
Plutko’s replacement will be Yun-sik Kim. After being removed from the roster on July 9, Kim was added to the roster the day before. In fact, Kim Yun-sik is a ready-made starter. After LG acquired Choi Won-tae in a trade from the Kiwoom Heroes, the starting rotation was supposed to consist of Choi, Lim Chan-kyu, and Lee Jung-yong, along with the foreign one-two punch of Kelly and Plutko. With Lee Jung-yong pitching well, Kim Yoon-sik’s call-up to the first team was pushed back. Instead, he continued to prepare. LG manager Yum Kyung-yeop had said, “Kim Yun-sik will be kept in reserve and called up when necessary,” and with Plutko’s departure, Kim Yun-sik was called up to the first team.메이저놀이터
On the 30th, Yeom said, “I’ve prepared a lot for this situation. (Kim) Yun-sik should hold up well. I think he can be considered a ‘key’ player,” and expressed his trust. Kim has appeared in four games in the Futures League, posting a 1-1 record with a 5.52 ERA. Most recently, he pitched three innings of one-hit ball against Sangmu on March 23, striking out four and walking none. “There are also Lee Min-ho, Kang Hyo-jong and Son Joo-young,” Yeom said, adding, “I think (Son) will get his chance soonest. He will start the second game of the doubleheader (against Gwangju KIA) on the 9th of next month.” Will LG be able to survive another crisis?