Lee regains velocity in bullpen, looks to be key man in fall baseball
The Doosan Bears have the upper hand in the 2023 KBO, as the battle for the final five spots heats up at the end of the season. While there are no guarantees due to the volatile nature of the season, there is a good chance that Doosan, with its cogs in motion, will finish in fourth place.
Unlike the defending champions SSG Landers, who are looking tired, or the KIA Tigers, who have lost mainstay Na Sung-bum to injury, Doosan doesn’t have a lot of bad news. They will be without their ace Kwak Bin for the Asian Games, but they are less bleeding than SSG (Park Sung-hoon and Choi Ji-hoon) and KIA (Choi Ji-min and Choi Won-jun).
If the current trend continues through the Asian Games, Doosan should be able to solidify their fourth place finish. With the odds stacked in their favor, it’s not just a matter of making the top five for Doosan, but how they perform at the Fall Festival. Unlike fifth place, which requires two wins in a row in the wild-card game to advance to the next stage, fourth place can look a little further ahead.
Key pitching statistics for Doosan’s Lee Young-ha (as of 9/21)
With an objective power deficit compared to the top teams, Doosan will need its bullpen to step up in the postseason. Doosan has advanced to the Korean Series before thanks to surprise performances from its bullpen. In 2013, Yoon Myung-jun was outstanding and helped the team reach the Korean Series, and in 2015, Lee Hyun-seung was more than just a one-inning closer and led the team to the championship.
Another pitcher to look for this season is Lee Young-ha. Now in his seventh year as a professional, Lee has plenty of experience pitching in fall ball and has recently regained his command. After returning to the first team in June and slowly improving his stuff, Lee hasn’t allowed an earned run in five games since September. Recently, he made headlines by throwing a 155 km/h fastball.스포츠토토
While he has yet to regain the form he had in 2019, when he won 17 games as a starter, it’s good for Doosan to have a pitcher of Lee Young-ha’s caliber in the bullpen now that closer Chung Chul-won is struggling compared to last year.
It’s also worth noting that Lee was originally a starter, not a specialty bullpen pitcher. With his ability to go multiple innings in the short game, he can serve as a long man to close out games in the middle innings.
With a late-season surge that has seen them go 8-2 in their last 10 games, Doosan should be looking to extend their fall baseball run as long as possible, not just to make the postseason. Now that he’s shaken off the bullying label, can Lee recreate the form that propelled the team to championships in the past? Doosan’s fate this fall will depend on the resurgence of Lee Young-ha.