The KT Wiz are on a roll. Their second-half record is 16-4 (.800) in 20 games, which is a better winning percentage than the “league-leading” LG Twins over the same period.
The biggest driving force behind KT’s rise has been the performance of their starting pitchers. Out of 20 games, 15 of them have been quality starts. Compared to the second-place SSG Landers (9), the difference is huge.
With more than six innings per game, the starters have been able to ease the burden on the pitching staff. Even in the second half of the season, when ‘second-year’ Park Young-hyun struggled with a 1-1 record, six holds and one save in 10 games with a 6.10 ERA, KT was able to hold on with the power of ‘starting baseball’.
‘Ace’ Ko Young-pyo was still going strong. He fulfilled his role perfectly, going 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings over four games. In his most recent outing, against the Suwon NC Dinos on April 12, he faced a whopping 13 batters, but showed his trademark crisis management skills to minimize the damage to three runs in seven innings.
Jeol, who had a rough first half of the season, is also starting to show signs of improvement. Starting with a quality start against the Changwon NC on the 29th of last month, he had three consecutive quality starts and wins, and in his most recent start against the NC on the 13th, he pitched a no-hitter despite struggling with seven strikeouts. In the second half of the season, he went 4-3 with a 2.42 ERA in 22 1/3 innings pitched.
Another Korean starter, Uhm Sang-baek, has also been on a roll with three wins and a 3.38 ERA in four games and 26⅔ innings pitched. He hasn’t left the mound before the sixth inning since July and went seven innings in two straight games, first against the Suwon SSG Landers on March 3 and then against the Suwon Hanwha Eagles on March 9.
The foreign pitchers aren’t doing too badly either. William Cuevas is 3-0 with a 2.88 ERA in four games and 25 innings, and Wes Benjamin is 2-0 with a 3.91 ERA in four games and 23 innings. While the homegrown pitching has been outstanding, it’s hard to ignore the contributions of the foreign pitchers 안전놀이터.
With one of the strongest mounds in the league, KT is looking to reach the postseason for the fourth consecutive year. If the five-man rotation works perfectly, the team will be able to utilize its pitchers not only in the regular season but also in the postseason. This is where the top teams are most wary of KT. With KT facing the Doosan Bears and Hanwha Eagles this week, it will be interesting to see if the starters can maintain their momentum.