The KIA Tigers’ faint hopes of reaching the semifinals were finally shattered. KIA failed this season’s goal of playing fall baseball in a higher ranking than last year (5th place). There is an atmosphere of curiosity about how the club’s front office and field will view this season’s results.
KIA lost 1-3 against the Doosan Bears in Jamsil on October 13, effectively failing to advance to the semifinals. In addition to winning the remaining two games, Doosan had to lose all four remaining games to achieve a dramatic 5th place match.
However, as Doosan won 3-2 against the LG Twins in Jamsil on the 14th, the only remaining chance to advance to the KIA semifinals disappeared. KIA concludes this season with a two-game series against the Gwangju NC Dinos at home on the 16th and 17th.
KIA was evaluated as a top 5 competitive team ahead of this season. However, the injury plague that continued from the beginning of the season and the poor performance of the foreign pitching team were fatal blows. Na Seong-beom and Kim Do-young were absent for most of the first half due to injury, and the foreign pitching duo of Anderson and Medina also failed to leave an impressive performance.
KIA made the decision to replace both foreign pitchers mid-season. As a result, Panoni (6 wins, 3 losses, ERA 4.37) and Sanchez (4 wins, 4 losses, ERA 5.94) also left regrets in many ways. The fact that there was no foreign ace who could overwhelm the opponent with his pitch was bound to be a major obstacle to the management of KIA’s starting lineup.
After the return of Na Seong-beom and Kim Do-young, the team’s batting lineup was on the rise in the summer, but the evil spirit of injuries struck KIA one after another in the final game of September. It was a series of bad news as outfielders Na Seong-beom (hamstring) and Choi Hyeong-woo (clavicle fracture), and infielder Park Chan-ho (ulna fracture) left the team within a short period of time. With the three starting fielders missing, the weight of the team’s batting lineup has decreased significantly.
Still, KIA held on with its gums and continued its difficult battle to the semifinals. KIA coach Kim Jong-guk said before the Doosan game on the 13th, “We were able to come this far because the remaining players played so well while the main players were out due to injuries. Among the players currently playing, there are quite a few who are playing with minor injuries. Still, seeing them come together with one mind and intention and try to win until the end makes me so thankful as a coach,토토사이트” he said.
Although this is a season that has been plagued with injuries, voices calling for on-field reform have clearly grown louder. As the team failed to advance to the semifinals, which was their most important goal, it became important how the club’s front leadership would make an on-site evaluation in this regard. There is already talk that the scope of change in coaching staff may increase.
Coach Kim Jong-guk also reached an important turning point in his ‘Hannam leadership’ ahead of the final year of his contract for the 2024 season. It is true that the league results of 5th place last year and 6th place this year are unsatisfactory results from KIA’s perspective, which is closer to a ‘win now’. The KIA team is also at a point where concerns are deepening over the coming winter.
Under the premise that on-field leadership remains unwavering, Coach Kim must do his best to prepare for the competitive 2024 season. Recently, Coach Kim announced his intention to foster fielders in vulnerable positions starting from the upcoming finishing camp.
Coach Kim said, “Our team’s young fielders need to grow further. Among Byun Woo-hyuk, Kim Seok-hwan, and Oh Seon-woo, there must be at least one player who can make a splash. These are players who need to be solidified starting from the fall camp after the season ends. “It is important which player emerges first, and the player who grabs the opportunity when it comes will become the starting player,” he emphasized.
I wonder what kind of reform KIA, which will not be able to avoid the aftereffects of being eliminated in the semifinals, will show this winter.