The Kia Tigers’ “big man” Yang Hyun-jong will take on the bats of the dominant LG Twins. With a four-game winning streak and a leap to the top of the standings at stake, Yang will need to resume his innings-eating ways that have been missing since June. Getting off to a quality start after six games will also be important for Yang.
KIA and LG will face off on August 8 at the Gwangju-Kia Champions Field. Both teams will send Yang Hyun-jong and Adam Plutko to the mound.
On Aug. 6 against the Hanwha Eagles in Gwangju, KIA sent the game to extra innings with a dramatic game-winning RBI single by Na Sung-bum with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. After mobilizing its bullpen to earn a 4-4 tie, KIA continued its winning streak.
With the team’s bats flowing well as of late, KIA will look to continue their winning streak against first-place LG on April 8. KIA showed off their hot team bats last week, averaging 8.5 runs per game over their six games.
KT WIZ head coach Lee Kang-cheol, who is in a five-way tie for fifth place with KIA, said, “When I saw KIA’s batting lineup recently, there was nowhere to hide from the first through the ninth. The hitting is at its peak, so it’s a good thing we’re not playing KIA right now,” he said with tongue-in-cheek.
Of course, there’s no telling how much the KIA lineup will be able to hit against their ace, Plutko. In the end, it’s up to Yang Hyun-jong on the mound to keep things tight early on. An inning of relief would be icing on the cake.
Yang has only had one quality start since June (one run in six innings against KT on June 24). Furthermore, in his 10 starts since June, he’s only made it past the sixth inning twice. As of late, he’s been accumulating too many pitches early in games and hasn’t been able to utilize his strengths of digesting innings.
One of the reasons the KIA starting lineup is considered so strong is because of Yang’s presence. For eight consecutive seasons, Yang has pitched more than 170 innings in a KIA uniform. The team’s mound operation has been easy this season because Yang has been a staple of the team for such a long time.
However, the ‘big man’s’ innings per game pace has been suspicious lately. The team needs to get back to a pitcher who can go at least six innings per start. Only then will KIA have a chance to make a comeback.
In the end, Yang Hyun-jong needs to make it six quality starts in eight starts to have a chance to smile, both individually and as a team. It would be a welcome outcome considering the team’s mound situation last week, 스포츠토토 which was characterized by bullpen attrition.
More importantly, Yang’s winning record is in desperate need of a boost. After failing to record a win in his last three starts, Yang has just five wins this season. After eight consecutive years of double-digit wins, Yang needs five more wins in his remaining starts to reach double-digit wins for the ninth consecutive year.
If he does, he will become only the second pitcher in history to reach nine consecutive years of double-digit wins and will challenge Lee Kang-cheol for the all-time record of 10 consecutive years of double-digit wins. With roughly 10 games left to start, it’s important for Yang to rack up the wins as quickly as possible.