The first mini series of the week is over, and now we head for the Thursday and Friday collection as the season’s end gets closer and closer. If there were no rain outs, these were due to be the final midweek regular season games of 2017. Alas, on we power, to October 3rd. That’s when the music stops.
Here we preview the upcoming games to see if we get a better idea who’ll be left standing on that faithful day. It looks more and more likely than just one of SK Wyverns, LG Twins or Nexen Heroes will be the last one through. The current top 4 are safe.
Kia Tigers v Lotte Giants
Wednesday’s disastrous capitulation in Munhak has probably shifted the mantle of favourites to Doosan. The Tigers are specialising in epic bullpen meltdowns; the likes of which should not be possible, so regularly, for a team with championship dreams. When they bow out this year, few tears will be shed. They are the league’s laughing stock, despite being top. For Lotte, a breathtaking August which saw them win an astonishing 19 games, has pushed the Giants firmly into the championship picture. They remain the league’s most consistent club despite sharing a series v LG in Jamsil.
The Tigers will start this game with a novice called Lee Min-woo taking to the mound. It is fair to say that no-one has a clue how he’ll do, but his 5-3 Future’s League record isn’t anything to get excited about, nor his huge ERA. Lotte will start Kim Won-jun for this game. Kim has enjoyed a reasonable breakout season for Lotte, appearing in 22 games and notching over 100 innings pitched. His 0-2 record against the Tigers is not impressive, however.
Head to head:
The Tigers lead this 8-6 but Lotte have won the last 5 straight. Given they won’t meet again this regular season, if the Giants can tie the head to head record going into a potential playoff meeting, they will not fear Kia no matter where the Tigers finish.
LG Twins v kt wiz
Despite losing heavily on Wednesday, kt split their series with Nexen and have clearly enjoyed their role as the proverbial banana skin. This month alone, the wiz have beaten SK, Doosan, Lotte and Nexen (3 times). LG Twins, meanwhile, ended a 2 run losing streak to topple Lotte at home. LG held onto 5th spot in the process (critically as both SK and Nexen won) despite being in patchy form, at best.
Ryu Jae-guk gets the nod for LG and he’ll need a big performance opposite Ryan Feierabend, one of the league’s top pitchers. The Suwon star is a prefect example of why win-loss records are not always reliable. He’s on 8-10 but has the lowest ERA (3.08) and WHIP (1.13) in the league, plus the second best WAR. If he was at a top 3 club, he’d be nearing 20 wins.
Head to head:
The Twins have dominated the wiz in 2017, winning 10 of their 12 meetings. They also need to replay 2 postponed games. Maintaining this record could be vital in an incredibly tight race for the final playoff spot.
SK Wyverns v Doosan Bears
Doosan swept NC midweek but that only tells part of the tail. They bounced back from 8-0 down to beat the Dinos 13-12 in extraordinary circumstances on Tuesday. 24-hours later, it was very much business as usual for the back-to-back champions. SK Wyverns also go into this series on the back of a massive high. They may have lost Tuesday’s game to Kia, but they followed LG Twins, Nexen Heroes and Hanwha Eagles in obliterating the feeble and clown-like Tigers pen on Wednesday, to the tune of 10 runs in the 7th inning.
Michael Bowden, plagued by injuries for much of 2017, told GSKBO he’s feeling the best he has all season. But the popular righthander needs a win and/or a solid outing having gone past the 6th inning once in his last 10 starts. Park Jong-jun (11-7, 4.06 ERA) has a mixed record against Doosan – 2-2 with a 5.87 ERA. This should be a good game.
Head to head:
Doosan hold an 8-5 winning record over the Wyverns this season. After Friday’s game, they will meet once more unless SK advance far enough in the postseason.
Samsung Lions v NC Dinos
Samsung Lions demolished Hanwha Eagles on Wednesday to tie a series with virtually nothing at stake. All the focus is now on Lee Seung-yeop as the greatest player in their history winds down an incredible career. NC Dinos will have still be having nightmares after blowing an 8-0 lead at home to Doosan on Tuesday, and then following that up with a heavy loss 24 hours later. NC are still in the championship picture but theirs looks like a challenge slowly fading away.
Zach Petrick (Samsung) v Choi Keum-gang (NC) promises a few runs. Petrick is 2-9 for the season with a 5.89 ERA. He has an ERA of 5.93 and one loss against the Lions. Choi is barely any better. His ghastly 6.75 ERA and 1.61 WHIP should be tested by Lee, Darin Ruff, Ku Ja-uk and co.
Head to head:
For a team with aspirations of winning the Korean Series this year, NC’s record of 6 wins and 6 losses (1 tie) against the lowly Lions must be considered a major disappointment. They have one more meeting at the end of September.
Nexen Heroes v Hanwha Eagles
The Heroes ended a run of 7 games without a win, hammering kt 8-0 on Wednesday. 4 of those 7 games were one run defeats, and another was a tie. Still, for a team with genuine play-off aspirations, losing three times to kt wiz in a week is unacceptable. Hanwha split their series with Samsung, but seem to be on holiday mode now. The Eagles are 4-7 in September, and in desperate need of rebuilding.
Nexen will start Han Hyeon-hee in this game. Han, 5-6 with 8 saves (4.42 ERA, 1.12 WHIP) in 95.2 innings, is a decent bullpen pitcher with experience as a closer and a starter. He has been beaten around a few times recently. Meanwhile, 32-year-old An Yeong-myeong continues a difficult season for Hanwha. An is 1-6 for the season and goes into this game with back-to-back losses and 26 runs (some unearned) conceded in his last 5 outings.
Head to head:
The Heroes comfortably lead this match up, winning 10 of their 14 meetings. Thursday in Daejeon is the last time these two will meet in 2017.
** Feature image of Kia Tigers pitcher Kim Yoon-Dong, who has endured a torrid run of form since being involved in the KBO All Star game last July. Photo from Chosun news. Feature image of Kia Tigers pitcher Kim Yoon-Dong, who has endured a torrid run of form since being involved in the KBO All Star game last July. Photo from Chosun news.