A shaky mound… SSG, now fall baseball ‘in jeopardy’

The defending champions SSG Landers, who won the 2022 season for the first time in their history without losing a single game, have been on a downward spiral. They now have to worry about making it to fall baseball.

Coming into the season, SSG was considered a top-tier team, if not the favorite to win the title.

Midway through the season, they were in a two-way tie with the leaders, the LG Twins. On the last day of July, they were in second place, just 2.5 games behind LG, and six games behind the Doosan Bears, who were third at the time.메이저놀이터

SSG remained in second place until mid-August, but then fell into a slump and gradually slipped down the standings. After falling to third place on August 19, SSG dropped to fourth place on August 7 and to fifth place two days later on August 9.

SSG’s slide didn’t end there, as the team lost five games in a row from August 12 against the KT Wiz in Incheon to August 17 against the LG Twins in Jamsil, dropping to sixth place. This is the first time SSG has fallen out of the top five since the start of the season.

Since September, SSG’s performance has been abysmal. In 14 games, they have two wins, one draw, and 11 losses for a winning percentage of 0.154.

In their last 10 games, they have one win, one draw, and eight losses. Their last win was a hard-fought 6-5 victory over KT in Suwon on October 10, thanks to a come-from-behind two-run blast from Park Sung-ho.

SSG’s shaky mound is the main reason for their recent struggles. Both the starters and the bullpen have collapsed.

Since September, SSG’s team ERA of 6.91 is dead last. They are the only one of the 10 teams with a sub-6 ERA. Both the starting ERA (6.95) and bullpen ERA (6.87) are in the 6s.

In September, it’s hard to find a pitcher in the SSG starting rotation who hasn’t done their job. Since September, starters are averaging just 4⅔ innings per game. In 14 games, only three times has a starter recorded a quality start (6+ innings or 3 earned runs or less).

Foreign pitcher Kirk McCarty, who had been the ace of the team through the middle of the season, went into a severe slump in September. After going 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA in six games during the month of August, he went winless in three starts in September and posted a 13.11 ERA.

Homegrown left-handed ace Kim Kwang-hyun, who has been up and down all season, continued his unstable form in September with a 4.30 ERA.

Left-hander Oh Won-seok has also struggled in September, going winless in three starts with a 7.98 ERA. Moon Seung-won, who switched from the bullpen to the starting rotation at the end of August, took the losses in both of his September appearances and posted a 10.38 ERA.

Only Roenis Elias was able to keep his ERA under control with a 2.84 ERA, including two quality starts in three appearances in September.

The early struggles of the starters led to an overloaded bullpen, and as the bullpen slumped, so did the number of upset losses. In September alone, they were blown out eight times. The most among the 10 teams.

On September 14 against Doosan in Jamsil, starter Elias pitched eight scoreless innings, but closer Seo Jin-yong, who came on in the bottom of the ninth, gave up three runs in ⅔ of an inning, resulting in a bitter loss.

In the first game of the doubleheader against LG on the 17th, they were evenly matched, leading 3-2 through five innings, before Noh Kyung-eun gave up two runs in the first inning and Lim Jun-seop gave up three runs in the first inning to lose 3-8.

Closer Seo Jin-yong, who had been solid for 50 consecutive games without a blown save (allowing the tying or winning run to score), has been blown three times since September and has drifted to an 8.44 ERA.

The SSG bullpen relies on Noh Kyung-eun (1984) and Ko Hyo-joon (1983). Even Choi Min-jun, who has been a stellar performer in the closer’s role, hasn’t been able to stabilize since returning from injury.

The crisis-ridden SSG will face the Hanwha Eagles on the 19th and the Samsung Lions on the 20th before taking on the leaders LG on the 21st. On the 22nd and 24th, they will play a three-game series against the Lotte Giants.

SSG must turn things around against Hanwha and Samsung, who are ahead of them in the head-to-head standings. The gap between them and seventh-place Lotte is only 4.5 games, so if they don’t rebound, they could be further away from fall baseball.

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