After an eventful slate of games Friday morning, the 2020 KBO season is starting to take shape. The disappointing rainout between the Kiwoom Heroes and LG Twins aside, the remaining four games provided strong pitching and some excellent hitting. The KT Wiz scored 8 runs in a single inning and put up 14 total on Friday! The Wyverns scored a run in the bottom of the 9th on a WALK to force extra innings, but then surrendered four runs in the top of the 10th to lose. Through 10 days, the NC Dinos are leading the standings, with the Wyverns bringing up the rear.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Doosan Bears: 13, Kia Tigers: 4
NC Dinos: 6, SK Wyverns 2 (10 innings)
Hanwha Eagles: 2, Lotte Giants: 1
Kiwoom Heroes @ LG Twins (Rained Out)
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day:
Min-woo Park (2B, NC Dinos): 4-6, 2B, 2 RBI. The Dinos didn’t do much on offense Friday, but Park was a force. His RBI double in the 4th was the first of the game, and he added in two more hits for good measure. In fact, even one time he didn’t get a hit, he made it on base when his ground ball to second base to start the game ate up Chang-pyung Kim. He did then get picked off, which isn’t great, but reaching base 5 times is impressive nonetheless.
Jun-Hyeok Oh (OF, SK Wyverns): 1-2, HR, BB. Oh’s team got stymied by Dinos’ starter Jae-hak Lee, managing only 2 hits and a single walk over the six innings Lee covered. However, Oh was evidently the only batter able to see him well as he drew a tough walk against him earlier in the game before hitting a long ball with two outs in the bottom of the 6th inning that got the Wyverns back within one run.
Preston Tucker (OF, Kia Tigers): 2-4, 2B, RBI. Tucker seemingly finds himself in this category every other night, as he has been extremely hot so far this season. He entered Friday slashing .406/.500/.750 and only added to those impressive numbers managing multiple hits and driving in a run. His RBI single in the first inning got the Tigers on the board, and he laced a double in the 5th inning as well for good measure. The 28-year-old is a KBO star right now.
Jose Miguel Fernandez (DH, Doosan Bears): 3-4, 2B, HBP, 2 RBI. One of the only players who has been better than Tucker so far this season has been Fernandez, and Friday he didn’t slow down. Fernandez racked up three hits, absorbed a HBP, and continues to be an MVP-level force. Per Fangraph’s KBO leaderboards, Fernandez has been the best player in the entire league thus far, and it’s worth wondering if the 28-year-old slugger could contribute right now for an MLB team, if state-side baseball ends up playing games.
Se-hyuk Park (C, Doosan Bears): 3-4, R, 2 RBI. Many of Doosan’s hitters played well Friday as they racked up 9 runs, and Park was no exception, as he made plenty of noise from the 7-spot in the lineup. The Bears’ backstop racked up three singles and drove in multiple runs. He doesn’t have much prowess on the bases, shown by his two unsuccessful stolen base attempts on the season, but most catchers aren’t speed demons, and Park is hitting very well right now.
Kyoung-min Hur (3B, Doosan Bears): 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Hur had been scuffling coming into Friday’s action, but may be breaking out of his early slump after collecting multiple hits and launching his first homer of the year. With the game likely already decided in the 9th, the Bears’ 8-hole batter launched a fly ball to left field, and that dinger is not only his first, but only his third extra-base hit thus far as well. Hopefully Hur’s performance Friday builds some momentum.
Woo-jun Sim (SS, KT Wiz): 3-4, 3B, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB. Sim hadn’t been off to the best start early this season, but Friday was a great start at getting back on track. The Wiz’ leadoff hitter entered Friday OPS-ing an abysmal .532 but immediately got going when he led off the bottom of the first inning with a triple into the right-center gap. He would add two more hits and a walk, while also stealing his third base of the year, as he stuffed the stat sheet as the Wiz cruised to their 2nd win of the season.
Mel Rojas Jr. (OF, KT Wiz): 2-4, HR, 2B, BB, 2 R, RBI. Rojas has been a man on a mission so far this season, the brightest spot on an otherwise poor start for the team through 10 days. Before being removed from this one once the Wiz had a comfortable lead, Rojas whacked multiple extra-base hits, including his second homer of the season in the fourth inning. Rojas is among the KBO league leaders in batting average, and the 29-year-old’s performance Friday demonstrated how well he’s seeing the ball.
Sang-su Kim (2B, Samsung Lions): 3-4, 2 R. The Lions ran into a buzz saw Friday, as the Wiz turned a 6-5 nail-biter into a 14-5 blowout with their 8-run 7th inning, but that didn’t stop Kim from racking up hits against them. Kim led off and poked three singles in his four plate appearances, constantly getting on base, and scoring two runs. Power isn’t a big part of the 30-year-old’s game, as his zero homers so far show, but Kim mans the keystone every day for the Lions and is hitting well over .300 through the early part of the season.
Ja-suk Ha (SS, Hanwha Eagles): 2-4, 2B, RBI . Not the most impressive stat line ever, but in a showing where the Eagles only mustered 8 hits and 2 runs in their 2-1 win, Ha was a big part of the game. Ha’s 5th inning double was one of very few extra-base hits on either side of this one, and the shortstop raised his batting average over .350 with the multi-hit effort.
Lee Jae-hak (NC Dinos): 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 4 K, 1 BB, 89 pitches. Lee Jae-hak had a masterful outing against the SK Wyverns, allowing minimal traffic on the basepaths. The only blemish on the outing was a home run, though it still should have been enough for a win, except Dinos closer Im Chang-min relinquished the team’s advantage in the ninth to concede Lee’s win. Lee accumulated a few more strikeouts in his last outing, though he was able to last longer and be more effective in this one.
Yu Hwui-kwan (Doosan Bears): 5 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 4 BB, 102 pitches. Despite allowing two runs, Yu Hwui-kwan was not credited with either of those runs because of a poor defensive showing by the Bears. In the first, an error by the third baseman Hur Kyoung-min eventually allowed a run to score. The story was the same in the fifth, where another error allowed a runner to score on a double by Tigers right fielder Preston Tucker. The elevated pitch count was due to a lethargic showing in the field, as this was, overall, a much-improved showing compared to his last outing in which Lee gave up five earned runs in four innings of work.
Kim Ee-whan (Hanwha Tigers): 6 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 K, 1 BB, 101 pitches. Kim was able to ride last start’s success into a second straight start of one earned run allowed. It was not smooth sailing early on, however, as in the first inning Kim allowed three hits, one walk, and his only earned run of the night. Over the next five innings, the Eagles’ right-hander cruised while only facing three over the minimum. The only concerning thing is that Kim has only registered five strikeouts in his 11 innings so far, making his success entirely dependent on limiting hard contact.
Moon Seung-won (SK Wyverns): 6 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 HB, 96 pitches. Moon had a fabulous outing against the best team in the league so far, the NC Dinos. While the third and fourth innings resulted in runs, Moon was able to keep the Dinos to only two runs while striking out more than a man an inning. This start was an improvement on the four earned runs given up in his season debut while keeping the same length (6 IP) and strikeouts (7) – the only thing stopping Moon from getting a win at this point is his teammates.
Today’s #KBOBaseball K leader was SK #Wyverns SP Seung-won Moon:
6 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 7 K, 1 BB pic.twitter.com/e4v49qpxwN
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 15, 2020
Saturday’s Key Matchup
Chris Rucinski (NC Dinos) vs. Nick Kingham (SK Wyverns): Here we’ll see two ‘foreigners’ square off in a matchup of the best team (Dinos) against one of the worst teams (Wyverns) this season. Both starters found success in their first starts before being roughed up in their second. For Kingham, that was allowing ten hits and five earned runs over three and two-thirds innings, while Rucinski allowed the same number of hits and runs over five and one-third innings. Hopefully, we can see both starters perform for a nice pitching duel.
— Jai Correa
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)