‘Kim Jin-ho’s long-term departure’ shakes up bullpen…NC moves quickly

NC Dinos shore up ‘bullpen weaknesses’ ahead of start of second half of baseball season

NC was not classified as a top-five contender heading into the start of this season’s Korean Baseball Organization. National team catcher Yang Yang-ji (Doosan) left the team as a free agent, and ace Drew Ruchinski (Oakland Athletics) returned to Major League Baseball (MLB). The team tried to bolster its lineup by signing catcher Park Se-hyuk as an outside free agent, but both the batting and pitching were weakened compared to the previous year.

When the regular season race finally began, they exceeded expectations. At one point, the team emerged as a dark horse to break the two-way tie between the LG Twins (49 wins, 2 draws, 30 losses) and SSG Landers (46 wins, 1 draw, 32 losses). A late-game losing streak in the first half of the season derailed the team, but they bounced back to finish fourth in the league (39 wins, 1 tie, 38 losses), improving their chances of making it to autumn baseball, where they could finish as high as fifth.

One of NC’s strengths is its bullpen. With the development of ‘young blood’ including Kim Jin-ho, Kim Si-hoon and Ryu Jin-wook, the depth has been solidified. The bullpen is the envy of other teams, and there have been a few standouts here and there. The left-handed card was also diverse. Kim Young-gyu, Lim Jung-ho, and Ha Jun-young were used as needed. Swingman Choi Sung-young and veteran reliever Lee Yong-chan were also used in a “supply and demand” fashion. As a result, the bullpen ranked second in ERA in April, third in May, and second in June. However, as the season progressed, injuries began to pile up, putting a small crack in the fabric.

NC’s July bullpen ERA of 5.75 ranked 7th. Worst monthly performance of the season. Kim Jin-ho (right shoulder rotator cuff injury), Lim Jung-ho (left elbow inflammation), and starter Choi Seong-young (orbital fracture) all succumbed to injuries. Even Lee Yong-chan was unable to pitch due to a spillover, making the bullpen less reliable. To maintain the pace in the second half, the bullpen needed to be reinforced.메이저놀이터

After much deliberation, NC acquired right-handed bullpener Chae Ji-seon in a trade with the LG Twins on the 18th. They gave up pinch-hitter Choi Seung-min, but looked outside the organisation for an alternative to Kim Jin-ho, who needed more time to return. NC general manager Lim Seon-nam told us, “We have a lot of injuries in the pitching staff, so we lacked depth. We talked to each other about who could be available (in a trade), and the cards fell into place.”

Manager Kang Myung-ho judged Chae Ji-seon to be an “instant powerhouse. Chae has appeared in 55 games for the first team, going 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA. This season, she was primarily in the Futures (second division) league. In 17 games, he has a 2-1 record with a 3.63 ERA, including a 0.82 ERA in his last 10 games (11 innings pitched). Expect him to see a bit more playing time than he did in LG.

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