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SSG Task, No Successor Kim Kwang-hyun

SSG Landers' Fall 2023 baseball season is over.

SSG lost 6-7 in Game 3 of the 2023 KBO postseason semi-playoff (best-of-five) at Changwon NC Park on the 25th.

After losing 3-4 in the first game and 3-7 in the second game at Incheon's home stadium, he played Changwon away from the brink. Choi Jung's come-from-behind grand slam erupted in the top of the second inning after starter Oh Won-seok allowed three runs from the first inning, but he couldn't smile in the end. SSG, last year's unified champion, ended its season after never winning this year's semi-playoff series.

Although SSG suffered from injuries and sluggishness of its main players, it finished the regular season in third place. Following the KBO's first regular season "Wire to Wire" victory last year, the view toward the "integrated champion" who reached the top of the Korean Series and won the championship has changed.

It was expected that SSG will be able to show competitiveness at the top again this year because veterans are strong and young players have had big stage experiences.

During the first half of the year, they fought for first place all the time. In April, it briefly fell to fourth place, and in May, it seemed to fall to second and third place, but in June, it ran first place again.

Veteran bullpen pitchers Noh Kyung-eun and Ko Hyo-joon prevented the second half of the game well. In addition, closer Seo Jin-yong accumulated saves one by one. Seo Jin-yong won the title of "save king" with 42 saves this year. It's our first title since our debut.

There was 'Ace' Kim Kwang-hyun in the starting lineup. Instead of foreign pitcher Eni Romero, who was released early in the season, he served as a "one-two punch" with Kirk McCarty until Roenis Elias came. In the second half of the season, McCarty left due to injury, but Kim Kwang-hyun led Elias and the starters.

Kim Kwang-hyun has been at the center of the starting lineup until the end. As Seung-woon did not follow, he failed to accumulate double-digit wins with nine wins (8 losses), which was regrettable for "Ace," but he did his part. Moreover, when "multi-year contract duo" Moon Seung-won went to the bullpen and Park Jong-hoon suffered a slump, SSG was able to steadily fight in the rankings thanks to Kim Kwang-hyun's good leadership.

However, he can't rely on Kim Kwang-hyun forever. There is no guarantee that he will be able to select two foreign pitchers every year. The first priority should be given to domestic players. A young ace must appear for SSG to turn the starting lineup well.

Until now, he had expected left-hander Oh Won-seok as a "post Kim Kwang-hyun." He is a pitcher with good pitching power with a dynamic pitching form. With six wins (8 losses) in 2022 and eight wins (10 losses) in the regular season this year, the number of wins has been accumulated one by one.

Song Young-jin, a rookie of the year, is also one of the young pitchers who will be raised as a starting pitcher. It can throw up to 150 kilometers per hour and the breaking ball is good. However, both players still have a lot to improve their control.

It is growing, but it is still all hidden by Kim Kwang-hyun's shadow. Next year, there should be a "young ace" to take over Kim Kwang-hyun's position. Kim Kwang-hyun was born in 1988 and is already in his mid-30s.

At the time of winning the 2018 Korean Series, Kim Kwang-hyun also blocked the Doosan Bears' last nine attacks by spraying a fastball of up to 154 kilometers per hour. But that was five years ago, too. I'm not old enough to be belittled. Finding "Post Kim Kwang-hyun" is SSG's biggest task.
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Thursday, October 26, 2023

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