[스포티비뉴스=잠실, 김민경 기자] I had a big dream of advancing to the Korean Series for eight consecutive years, but the reality is that even reaching the top five is difficult. The Doosan Bears are having their worst season since Kim Tae-hyung took over as manager in 2015.
As of the 6th, Doosan is in 8th place with a win rate of 0.432 with 32 wins, 42 losses and 2 draws. There is a whopping 18 games difference from the leader SSG Landers (51 wins, 25 losses and 3 draws). Last year, when I was told it was the worst first half since Kim took office, it wasn’t like this. Doosan finished in 7th place with a win rate of 0.480 in the first half of last season, 36 wins, 39 losses, and at that time, they played 9 games with KT Wiz. It means that it was still a good distance to jump into the upper ranks.
Last year, I survived on the backseat. Doosan took first place with a win rate of 0.574 in the second half of last year with a win rate of 35 wins, 26 losses, and 8 draws, and advanced to fall baseball with 4th place in the season. This atmosphere continued into the fall, becoming the first Korean professional baseball team to advance to the Korean Series for 7 consecutive years.
This was possible because ace Ariel Miranda was having an MVP season and domestic ace Wonjun Choi was making a career high. The back door where Kim Kang-ryul, Lee Young-ha, Lee Hyeon-seung, Hong Kun-hee, Kim Myung-shin, Kwon Hwi, Lee Seung-jin, and Choi Seung-yong endured was also quite reliable. In the batting line, Kim Jae-hwan and Yang Seok-hwan ran a home run race within the team, and Park Geon-woo (currently NC), Jose Miguel Fernandes, and Jung Soo-bin boasted good hitting, contributing to the rise in the second half.
This year, things are very different. Like Miranda last year, there is no card that guarantees one win and can go. Robert Starck (7 wins) and Lee Young-ha (6 wins) are doing their part, but they can’t show pitching that consistently overwhelms opponents enough to earn the title of ‘Ace’. Choi Won-jun is sluggish compared to last year, and Kwak Bin, Choi Seung-yong, Park Shin-ji and other Young-geons have limited experience. The aftermath of waiting for Miranda after pouring out $1.9 million to leave with a shoulder injury at the beginning of the season is clearly visible in the starting lineup.
Closer Kim Kang-ryul left the bullpen due to an injury. His shoulder condition is not good enough to predict the timing of his return in the second half. Hong Kun-hee is replacing Kim Kang-ryul’s share, but more and more difficult things are coming out. Kim Myung-shin and Jeong Cheol-won are adding strength, but Lim Chang-min, Lee Hyun-seung, and Park Chi-guk are unable to relieve the burden of Pil Seung-jo as much as expected.
The batting line is painful for the 4th batter Kim Jae-hwan’s slump. Ahead of this season, he signed an FA contract for four years and 11.5 billion won, the highest in the club’s history, and is batting average 0.231, 12 homers, and 39 RBIs. There is a problem with the 4th batter falling to 19th in RBI. In addition, in the last three games, he is only striking out 6 in 9 at-bats.
Hitters with a good sense of hitting always get hurt once in a while. Yang Seok-hwan (side), Kim In-tae (hamstring), Heo Kyung-min (knee), Ahn Kwon-su (shoulder), etc. Yang Suk-hwan was absent for over a month, so the pace of raising his pace was slow, and Heo Kyung-min just returned on the 5th. Kim In-tae and Ahn Kwon-soo are building their bodies with the goal of returning in the second half.
It is difficult to change the atmosphere as a player, so now the coaches are changing. By sending pitching coach Jeong Jae-hoon and hitting coach Lee Do-hyung to the second team in turn, veteran pitching coach Kwon Myeong-cheol and hitting coach Lee Jeong-hoon were brought up to the first team.
Coach Kim said, “Because there are a lot of games left. Shouldn’t we do everything we need to do? Because (the veteran coach) has a lot of experience. Rather than teaching well, he has years of experience. It’s a little change.”
But miracles are unlikely to come easily. On the 5th, Doosan lost to the Jamsil Kiwoom Heroes with a 3–4 comeback loss and lost 5 in a row. It is Doosan baseball these days that collapses with one mistake in Gyeonggi-do. The record in the last 10 matches is 1 win, 1 draw and 8 losses. The gap with NC Dinos in ninth place was narrowed by 1.5 games. It was also 6.5 games behind the 5th placed KIA Tigers. At this rate, it will be the first time in eight years since 2014 that Doosan is taking a rest in the fall.