The SSG task has been completed, but there is no successor for Kim Kwang-hyun due to the failure to enter the PO.
The SSG Landers’ 2023 fall baseball season has come to an end.
SSG lost 6-7 in the third game of the best-of-five semifinals of the 2023 KBO postseason at Changwon NC Park on Nov. 25.
The team traveled to Changwon on a cliffhanger after losing the first game 3-4 and the second game 3-7 at home in Incheon. After starter Oh Won-seok gave up three runs in the first inning, Choi Jeong-ho hit a game-winning grand slam in the top of the second inning, but it was not enough. SSG, last year’s unified champions, ended their season without winning a single game in this year’s semi-playoff series.
SSG finished the regular season in third place, despite struggling with injuries and poor performances from key players. After winning the KBO’s first-ever regular season “wire-to-wire” title last year, 먹튀검증토토사이트 all eyes were on the “unified champions” who went all the way to the top of the Korean Series to win the tournament.
With veterans in place and younger players gaining experience on the big stage, expectations were high for SSG to be competitive at the top of the standings again this year.
For the first half of the year, they were constantly fighting for first place. In April, they briefly dropped to fourth place, and in May, they seemed to slip to second and third place, but in June, they reclaimed the top spot.
The veteran bullpen of Noh Kyung-eun and Ko Hyo-joon did a great job of closing out the game, and closer Seo Jin-yong has been piling up the saves. Seo won the save title with 42 saves this year. It was his first title since his debut.
The starting pitching staff was led by the “ace” Kim Kwang-hyun. He was a “one-two punch” with Kirk McCarty until Roenis Elias came in to replace foreign pitcher Enri Romero, who was released early in the season. In the second half of the season, McCarty was sidelined with an injury, but Kwang-hyun led the lineup with Elias.
Kwang-hyun remained in the center of the starting lineup until the end. He didn’t have much luck, finishing with a disappointing 9 wins (8 losses), but he did his job. What’s more, when the ‘multi-year contract duo’ Moon Seung-won went to the bullpen and Park Jong-hoon struggled, SSG was able to keep fighting for the top spot thanks to Kwang-hyun’s leadership.
But they can’t rely on Kwang-hyun forever. There’s no guarantee that we’ll be able to pick two foreign pitchers every year. We have to rely on our domestic players first. For SSG to be able to rotate its starting lineup well, a young ace needs to emerge.
So far, they’ve pinned their hopes on left-hander Oh Won-seok as the ‘post-Kim Kwang-hyun’. He has a dynamic pitching style and good command of his pitches. He is also accumulating experience, having won 6 games (8 losses) in 2022 and 8 games (10 losses) in the regular season this year.
This year’s rookie, Song Young-jin, is another young pitcher who is being developed into a starter. He can throw up to 150 kilometers per hour and has a decent changeup. However, both players still have a lot of work to do on their pitches.
They’re improving, but they’re still in the shadow of Kim Kwang-hyun. Next year, we should see a “young ace” take over from Kim. Kim was born in 1988 and is now in his mid-30s.
He shut down the Doosan Bears in the final nine innings of their 2018 Korean Series victory, spraying them with fastballs up to 154 kilometers per hour. But that was five years ago. He’s not exactly at the age where he’s going to be a dominant pitcher. Finding the “post-Kwang-hyun” is SSG’s biggest challenge.