As the 2023 KBO season draws to a close, the race for the top spot is heating up, and injuries to foreign ace pitchers are becoming a factor.
LG is the team most in danger. At one point, the team was eight games ahead of the second-place teams and appeared to have virtually booked its ticket to the Korean Series for the first time in 29 years since 1994, but foreign ace Adam Plutko has been sidelined. Plutko was replaced after feeling discomfort in his left adductor muscle while covering the bases in the fourth inning against the Changwon NC on April 26. The diagnosis was a left pelvic bone contusion. He is expected to be out for four to five weeks, meaning he is unlikely to pitch in the rest of the regular season.
Plutko is the ace of the LG mound, with an 11-3 record and 2.41 ERA in 21 appearances this season. Plutko’s departure is especially stinging as Casey Kelly, who was LG’s ace on the mound for four years starting in 2019, including a 16-4 record and 2.54 ERA last year, has struggled a bit this season with an 8-7 record and 4.39 ERA. While LG was swept by NC in a three-game series last weekend, second-place KT swept a three-game series against Lotte, narrowing the gap between the two teams to 4.5 games as of the 29th.
LG plans to fill Plutko’s void with left-hander Kim Yun-sik, who was designated for assignment on the 29th. Kim had a strong second half last season, going 5-2 with a 2.68 ERA. In particular, he went 3-0 with a 0.31 ERA in five games in September. This performance earned him a spot on the national team for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. However, he has been up and down this year, going 3-4 with a 5.29 ERA in 11 appearances. He was last sent down to the second team on June 8 against Kiwoom and has been slowly building his body. For LG, the calculation is that Kim Yun-sik needs to replicate his late-season form from last year and fill Plutko’s void well to stay in the lead.
KIA, which is locked in a fierce fifth-place battle with Doosan, has lost right-hander Mario Sanchez, who was brought in as a replacement foreign player for Adonis Medina at the end of the first half. According to KIA, Sanchez recently underwent a medical examination and was diagnosed with a damaged medial collateral ligament in his right elbow and impingement syndrome. He is not expected to require surgery, so the team plans to use a combination of injections and rehabilitation. Sanchez will be throwing out of the bullpen in three weeks. It will be more than four weeks before he takes the mound again. KIA also recently lost left-hander Lee Yi-ri to shoulder inflammation. Add in Sanchez’s absence, and it’s hard to see how they’ll be able to manage their starting rotation. Riding a four-game winning streak into the 29th, KIA will need to fill the holes on the mound with firepower from the bats.
Samsung, which was in last place in the first half of the season, raising concerns that it might finish last for the first time since its inaugural year in 1982, has turned things around in the second half and is in eighth place. Samsung’s hopes of a top-five finish have been hampered by the up-and-down health of David Buchanan. Buchanan has skipped the starting rotation once due to gallbladder symptoms. Buchanan, who has been Samsung’s foreign ace for four years since 2020, has been plagued by nagging injuries this year. In June, he missed one start due to a sore back of his right hand, and in July, he didn’t take the mound due to a sore right knee.토토사이트
It’s not a lost cause. When Buchanan is on the mound, he throws over 110 pitches in a responsible manner. He threw 127 pitches against SSG on April 11 and 116 pitches in his last start against Hanwha on April 22. With an 8-6 record this season, Buchanan has yet to reach the 10-win mark, but with a 2.91 ERA, he has the makings of an ace, and Samsung needs him to regain his form quickly to keep their hopes of reaching the top five alive.