Who will be selected for the opening match, the symbol of the ace?
Attention is focusing on the starting pitcher of the KIA Tigers, who will play the opening match against SSG Landers at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 1st. Local one-two punch Yang Hyeon-jong (35) Lee Eui-ri (21), Sean Anderson (29) and Adonis Medina (27), Lim Ki-young (30) and Yoon Young-chul (19), who have been competing for the 5th starting lineup, among the numerous selection resources, who is coach Kim Jong-guk? Whether to choose is shrouded in a veil.
Until last year, the selection for the opening match was the responsibility of Yang Hyeon-jong, the ‘great pitcher’. As a left-handed ace who goes beyond the KIA and represents the KBO league, not only his skills but also his symbolism are unquestionable. He was a card that could be held out without much trouble.
But this year, things are not going well. Yang Hyeon-jong is still raising his pitching condition by joining the team again after participating in the 2023 WBC (World Baseball Classic). A situation where you cannot expect 6 innings-100 pitches from the opening series right away. The KIA bench draws a picture in which Yang Hyeon-jong can digest up to 80 pitches in the first appearance of the season. While he is still not perfect in terms of condition, he is concerned about the possibility that there will be an aftermath for the entire season if he overdoes it. Moreover, the fact that it is an expedition to Incheon, not Gwangju, is considered a part where it is not necessary to put Yang Hyeon-jong as a starter for the opening game.
However, it does not seem easy to give up the Yang Hyeon-jong card in this opening game. Yang Hyeon-jong was 1 win undefeated and an average ERA of 2.04 in three confrontations with SSG last year. He had a batting average of only 2.15, and he did not allow even a single home run. It is true that the possibility of pushing the Yang Hyeon-jong card is higher considering the fact that the waiting time is long to wait until the first game of the season that must be won and the home opener (against Doosan in Gwangju on the 7th-9th).
If Yang Hyeon-jong does not stand on the mound for the opening game, he leans toward the foreign duo.
In the KIA, not only Yang Hyeon-jong, but also Lee Eui-ri is in a situation where it is difficult to match 100% condition for the opening series in the aftermath of WBC appearances. Because of this, there is a possibility that Anderson and Medina, who have steadily improved their condition from camp, will take on a heavy role. Anderson pitched well with an ERA of 1.20 in 10 innings in three demonstration games. Although Medina only had an earned run average of 5.11 in 12⅓ innings, he is evaluated as a more demanding pitcher than Anderson by making full use of two-seams over 150 km. We cannot rule out the possibility of using those who have not yet accumulated information on the opposing team as a surprise card in the opening game.
Director Kim smiled, saying, “The order of (starting) has been set. But it’s still a secret.” Curiosity about the choice made by KIA is growing. 먹튀검증