The Kia Tigers have dropped in the standings even as they approach 100% power, and they’re struggling to play “defensive baseball. A questionable pick last winter is on the chopping block.
After three days, KIA is in ninth place in the league with 30 wins, one tie, and 38 losses. They held the sixth spot until the third week of June, but have fallen behind the Hanwha Eagles, who have recently won eight straight games, the KT Wiz, who have regained their winning ways, and the Kiwoom Heroes, who are anchored by slugger Lee Jung-hoo.
The team’s winning percentage hasn’t improved even after the return of top batsman Na Sung-beom and infield prospect Kim Do-young. After completing their injury rehabilitation, the two players made their comebacks side by side on March 23 against the Gwangju KT Wiz. Despite showing good hitting form, with Na batting .333 and Kim batting .290 in seven games, KIA went just 2-5.
The reasons are clear. The mound has been shaky. Adonis Medina, who has been outscored by six runs (6.05) in 12 games, has been dropped from the first team roster. He hasn’t pitched in the Futures League. He’s in the process of being released. Ace Yang Hyun-jong is doing his job, but fourth starter Lee Yi-ri hasn’t gone five innings in three straight games. Yoon Young-cheol, who gave up a career-high 11 hits and seven runs against the Gwangju NC Dinos on March 17, was given 10 days of rest and skipped a rotation.
As the starters digested fewer innings, the bullpen became more taxed. It’s a vicious cycle. The Kia mound has posted a team ERA of 4.92 over the last two weeks, the lowest among the 10 clubs in that span.
The offense hasn’t shown the firepower expected either, ranking 10th in batting average (.220) and eighth in runs scored (33) in that span, but the mound is the underlying reason for KIA’s struggles. Medina’s replacement, a foreign pitcher, is expected to come in late in the season, even if the contract and administrative process is finalized quickly. In the meantime, Korean players will have to fill in. Hwang Dong-ha and Kim Gun-gook, who started the opener against KT on March 23 and the LG Twins on March 1, gave up three runs in two innings and two and two-thirds innings, respectively.
The decision to go with two foreign pitchers last winter seems to have paid off.
KIA declined to re-sign Sean Nolin and Thomas Pannoni, who combined for 17 quality starts (6+ innings – 3 earned runs or less) in the second half of the 2022 season. Nolin was limited to just 12 games in the first half due to injury, but was a consistent starter in the second half, posting a one-run (1.90) ERA. Panoni, who replaced Ronnie Williams in a KIA uniform, also posted a 2.41 ERA.먹튀검증
Coming off a fifth-place finish in the 2022 season, KIA’s first postseason appearance in four years, the team was looking to bolster its lineup. Noticing a trend of strong right-handed pitchers with good command, they focused on signing right-handers with fastballs. Nolin and Panoni are finesse lefties with relatively slow velocities. Panoni was placed on the disabled list, and eventually, Shawn Anderson and Medina were added to the foreign pitching staff.
Medina was a clear failure. Anderson is hardly a starter. He pitched well in April, but in his May start