Who will be the closing pitcher of the Doosan Bears in the 2024 season? “Through this spring camp, we will find a player who will be fully responsible for only three out counts in the ninth inning,” Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop said. “Current players” Jung Cheol-won, “old ball” Hong Geon-hee, and “new player” Kim Taek-yeon seem to be predicting a three-way race between the Bears and the closing pitcher.
Doosan began its Sydney spring camp in Australia on Feb. 1. The most notable competition at Doosan camp is its closing position. Doosan’s bench made the decision to change its closing position from Hong Kun-hee to Jeong Cheol-won in the middle of the 2023 season. Jeong, who often played in the eighth inning to prevent a possible crisis, left a sense of frustration at the end of the season.
In response, manager Lee Seung-yeop wants to strengthen the bullpen depth in the 2024 season to reduce the burden of winning a must-win group, and at the same time choose a closer who focuses only on three out counts in the ninth inning.
Manager Lee Seung-yeop watching pitchers pitch in the bullpen. Photo = Doosan Bears
Lee told reporters before leaving the spring camp, “It may be too early to finalize my position before the camp. Last year, there was a problem at the closing, and there was also a change of position. It is also true that Jung Chul-won also had a lot of games in which he threw four or more out-counts, which made him feel weak. After all, we need to find a pitcher in this camp who can completely take responsibility for three out-counts in the ninth inning.”헤라카지노
“In the situation that continued until last year, it is most likely that Jung Chul-won will take the closing position. However, I think I will decide after watching the pitching staff’s condition and pitch a little longer before the opening of the game,” Lee stressed.
Like coach Lee’s point of view, Jung Chul-won, who has played the finishing role since the middle of the 2023 season, seems to have the priority to take the lead in the competition. Jung Chul-won pitched in 67 games (72.2 innings) in the 2023 season and recorded 7 wins, 6 losses, 13 saves, and 11 holds with an ERA of 3.96. Although he expressed anxiety at the end of the season by recording nine blon saves, Jung Chul-won wants to secure his current closing position with the best ball power in the team.
The opponent that will threaten Jung Chul-won the most is by far the closing “guan” Hong Geon-hee. Hong Kun-hee handed over the finishing position to Jung Chul-won in the middle of the 2023 season. Hong Kun-hee continued her slump in the second half of the year, leaving a disappointing pitch in the postseason appearance. Hong Geon-hee, who remained with an internal FA contract of KRW 2.45 billion for 2+2 this winter, wants to regain her finishing position with a rebound in the 2024 season.
“Of course, I want to be a pitcher. Personally, I had a lot of regrets about the change of position last year. I will take the position once again and participate in the spring camp with the mindset that I want to keep it well this time. However, I will not just insist on the closing position, but I will try my best to throw a good ball in any position depending on the team’s situation,” Hong said.
“Super Rookie” Kim Taek-yeon can also compete with his seniors Jung Chul-won and Hong Geon-hee for the team’s closing pitcher position. Although he is a rookie pitcher, the team’s internal view is that he is not pushed by his seniors at least in terms of ball power. If he adapts early to the professional mound, there is a good chance that Kim Taek-yeon’s position will rise vertically for a moment. Kim Taek-yeon’s first bullpen pitching at the Sydney Spring Camp has sparked great interest inside and outside the team.
“I try not to be conscious of the competition for pitchers until the end,” Kim said. “The older members will not be conscious of me anyway (laughs). If I work hard at what I have to do, I think I will get a chance at a good place wherever I go. I will give it a try.”
In the end, Doosan’s bullpen in the 2024 season is likely to be operated by Jung Chul-won, Hong Geon-hee, and Kim Taek-yeon. Among them, the closing pitcher who will be in charge of the ninth inning is expected to be decided through the spring camp. I wonder who will be the closing star of the Bears, which foretells fierce competition.