KIA starting lineup in crisis→Tight with alternate starters…submarine is the answer? Why the commander shook his head
Kia Tigers set to make a strong push, but starting pitching is key
The Kia Tigers’ starting lineup is cracked by the loss of Mario Sanchez (29) to injury. A gap is inevitable. Kim Gun-guk (35), Kim Jae-yeol (27), and Hwang Dong-ha (21) have been mentioned as possible replacements, but neither of them can be expected to pitch five innings. KIA is planning a 1+1 strategy, keeping the four starters Yang Hyun-jong (35) Lee Yi-ri (21) Yoon Young-chul (29) and Thomas Panoni (29), while the other five spots will be filled by alternates.
The problem is, it’s not the end of the road. If Iribe is not called up to the Hangzhou Asian Games squad, which is scheduled to convene on September 22, the available starting options will shrink even further. The best-case scenario would be for Sanchez to be back by then, but with a three-week rehabilitation and a pitching buildup, it’s hard to see him returning in September.
In a worst-case scenario, KIA could be left with only three starting pitchers from the end of September. This is crucial for KIA, as they have the most games left on their schedule and will have to play the remainder of the schedule without a break. They could use a 1-for-1 deal on a backup starter to fill four or five starting spots. However, if they are unable to pitch five innings, the burden falls on the bullpen, and the mound operation becomes more complicated. Not only Lee Yi-ri, but also bullpen reliever Choi Ji-min will be in the Asian Games squad.스포츠토토
Im Ki-young, 30, has been heavily touted to fill the void. A starter until last year, Lim has been working out of the bullpen this year in both long relief and the closer’s role. Not only is he a powerful reliever, but he can also work multiple innings, making him an all-around key to the KIA bullpen. However, he has accumulated a lot of innings. Through 30 days, he has pitched 66⅔ innings, ranking first in the KBO among relievers.
When asked about the possibility of switching Lim’s starting role, KIA manager Kim Jong-kook said, “There are so many games and innings. He could be overloaded (if he switches), and there is a risk of injury. I don’t think that’s the case,” he said. “We’re going to have guys who have started for the Futures (second team) come up and give us two or three innings. The bullpen will be utilized more when the expanded roster is up and running.”
It’s unlikely that KIA will convert Lim to a starter right away. The best case scenario is that the alternate starters from the Future Team will do their job, and the rest of the existing starters will show their innings and minimize the burden on the bullpen.