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LG Killer Benjamin? In the end, it was a bullpen fight

“No matter who the starting pitcher is, this Korean Series is a bullpen battle.”

This is the general evaluation of baseball experts watching the Korean Series.

LG Twins and KT Wiz will play Game 3 of the '2023 KBO Postseason' Korean Series (best of 7 games) at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on the 10th. In past Korean series games played with 1 win and 1 loss, the team that won Game 3 has a more than 80% chance of winning.

Ahead of the third game, where there is a huge chance of winning, KT predicted Wes Benjamin (30), and LG announced Lim Chan-gyu (31). Looking at the weight of the starting mound alone, KT has the advantage.

Lim Chan-gyu, who has the most wins (14) as a domestic pitcher, is not an easy opponent, but it is true that he is inferior to Benjamin, who is considered the 'LG killer'. Lim Chan-gyu appeared in 4 games against KT this season and did not do well with 1 win, 1 loss, and an ERA of 6.61. There is no quality start.

On the other hand, Benjamin, who recorded 15 wins, 6 losses and an ERA of 3.54 in the 2023 season, was even stronger against LG. He made 5 appearances and earned 4 wins. The average ERA is also ‘killer level’ at 0.84. Except for one game (5.1 innings, 1 earned run), he achieved quality starts in all games.

Left-hander Benjamin's sharply curved outside slider feels farther to left-handed hitters. Left-handed hitters such as Hong Chang-gi, Park Hae-min, Kim Hyun-soo, and Oh Ji-hwan only hit .100 against Benjamin. KT is inferior to LG in this season's head-to-head record (6 wins, 10 losses), but only won 5 games in which Benjamin appeared.

The importance of starting pitchers cannot be overemphasized, but the prevailing view is that this Korean Series will ultimately develop into a bullpen battle. In both the first and second games, a 'reversal drama' was produced in which the winner was decided at the end, creating a fierce battle of wits.

With Son Dong-hyun and Park Young-hyun, who had boasted an impeccable team since the playoffs, KT defeated LG closer Ko Woo-seok and won the first game. In the second game, LG achieved a come-from-behind victory by pitching 8.2 scoreless innings with the 'in-hae tactic' of using 7 bullpen pitchers after starter Choi Won-tae collapsed in the first inning.

In the postseason, starters have fewer innings compared to the regular season, so the team with a stronger bullpen is more likely to win the championship ring. KT manager Lee Kang-cheol announced that “Game 4 will be a bullpen day,” and LG, which has only one foreign pitcher and therefore has to rely more heavily on the bullpen, is a team that saw results through the bullpen ‘in-hae tactic’ during the regular season. In the regular season, LG recorded 42 of its 86 wins as come-from-behind wins. There were 11 games in which seven or more bullpen pitchers were used. This is why the prospect that the battle will be decided in the bullpen is gaining persuasiveness.
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Friday, November 10, 2023

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