The Kia Tigers are on an eight-game winning streak, but there are cracks in their starting rotation.

One spot is open after foreign pitcher Mario Sanchez went down with a three-week diagnosis. The card the KIA bench has been playing as an alternative is a replacement starter. Kim Gun-guk (35), Kim Jae-yeol (27), and Hwang Dong-ha (21), all of whom have consistently received starting lessons from the Futures (second team), were selected as replacements. The plan was to use a “tandem,” where two of them would pitch two to three innings a game.

However, a strange trend has been taking place.

On the 29th of last month against the Gwangju NC Dinos. KIA announced Kim Gun-gook as the starter for the game, but the game was canceled due to heavy rain. The next day, KIA head coach Kim Jong-guk announced that he would start Thomas Pannoni instead of Kim Gun-guk. With the cancelation of the substitutes, the team was able to meet the normal starting rotation date. With an extra day of rest due to the cancellation of the 30th game, Pannoni took the mound on the 31st, and KIA demolished NC Dinos ace Eric Pedi for a 13-3 win and their fifth straight victory.안전놀이터

The second backup plan didn’t work out either. Kim announced Hwang Dong-ha as the first pitcher against the Doosan Bears in Jamsil on May 5. “I want him to show a strong image, even if it’s not a long inning,” Kim said. However, just before the game, Jamsil Stadium suddenly received a lot of rain, and the decision was made to cancel the game. Instead of delaying Hwang Dong-ha’s start by a day, Kim opted to call up Pannoni in the original rotation.

The alternate starting pitcher game is called a “bullpen day. It’s great if the starter can throw long innings, but it’s usually labeled as an “alternate”. No matter how much preparation you do in Futures, there’s only so much you can do to overcome first-team bats, which is why most teams that use alternate starters choose to activate their bullpen early, once the batting order has gone around the bases. Win or lose, this puts a lot of pressure on the bullpen, and it’s bound to affect the rest of the game.

KIA currently has the most games remaining out of the 10 teams in the KBO. They’ve taken a leap forward recently with an eight-game winning streak, but they still have a long way to go to solidify their fall schedule. While one win is disappointing, the process of winning is also important given the number of games remaining. The team needs to avoid bullpen depletion by using substitute starters and get back to its regular starting rotation.

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