Hwang Dong-ha, Kim Ki-hoon, Kim Yoo-shin – bullpen day relay waiting in the wings…’Super Mario’ fills 3-week gap well

The KIA Tigers have a big task on their hands to fill the void left by foreign pitcher Mario Sanchez.먹튀검증 Even Lee Yi-ri is not in perfect form, so the need for a replacement starter will only increase in the future. It will be interesting to see what the KIA bench can do in Sanchez’s absence.

On August 28, KIA officially announced, “Sanchez was examined today (August 28) at both Kim Jin-seop Orthopedics and Sejong Sports Orthopedics and was diagnosed with a partial injury to the medial collateral ligament of the right subjective (elbow) and symptoms of impingement syndrome.”

According to KIA, Sanchez does not require surgery, but will be rehabilitated with injection therapy. The rehabilitation period is expected to last about three weeks, after which he will start pitching out of the bullpen.

KIA pitcher Kim Gun-gook was announced as the starting pitcher against Gwangju NC on August 29. Photo: KIA Tigers
Sanchez made his first start on Aug. 25 against the Gwangju Hanwha Eagles, pitching seven innings of one-run ball to earn the win. Sanchez had been in a slump before that start. He hadn’t had a quality start in six straight games since his KBO debut on July 9 against the Suwon KT WIZ (6.1 innings, one run).

Sanchez bounced back with a quality start in his 25th start and his first personal two-game winning streak of the season. However, after that start, Sanchez complained of right elbow discomfort. Although the elbow felt better afterward, Sanchez had an abnormal finding at the club’s first medical examination on the 26th.

As a result, KIA removed Sanchez from the first team roster on the 26th and held a second medical examination in Seoul on the 28th. With the three-week rehabilitation recommendation, KIA will have to operate its starting rotation without Sanchez for the remainder of the September schedule. The good news for KIA is that Sanchez avoided surgery that could have ruled him out for the season.

No matter how soon he returns, Sanchez is expected to be back by the last week of September. A delay could push him into October. The KIA bench will have to fill Sanchez’s shoes for at least the next four weeks and possibly as long as five. Add to that Lee, who will be called up to the Korean National Team for the Hangzhou Asian Games on September 22, and you have a recipe for a season-ending absence from the starting rotation. In many ways, it’s KIA’s fate to have so many holes in the starting lineup.

Considering a ‘bullpen day’ if replacement starters fail… Will a surprise hero fill the Sanchez-Lee gap?

KIA pitcher Hwang Dong-ha is one of the candidates for a future replacement starter. Photo/KIA Tigers
KIA manager Kim Jong-guk has named Kim Gun-guk, Hwang Dong-ha, Kim Ki-hoon, and Kim Yoo-shin as possible alternate starters in the future. He also hinted at the possibility of using bullpen days in light of the expanded roster starting on September 1.

First on the list of alternate starters is Kim Gun-guk. Kim was announced as the starting pitcher on August 29 against the Gwangju NC Dinos. This is the spot vacated by Lee, who is scheduled to return this Sunday.

Kim has already made two starts this season. On July 1 against the LG Twins (2.2 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs) and July 7 against the KT WIZ (0.2 innings, 1 hit, 1 walk), Kim served as the de facto opener. After being sent down to the Future Team, Kim recently returned to the first team, pitching one inning of relief against the Gwangju Hanwha on August 26, allowing one run on two hits.

After Kim, the next two candidates are Hwang Dong-ha and Kim Yoo-shin. Hwang has made two starts in nine appearances this season. His starts came on June 23 against KT (2 innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs) and August 20 against the Samsung Lions (4.2 innings, 4 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs). Hwang Dong-ha has shown some promise in his recent starts for Samsung, so he’s likely to get a chance to be the backup next to Kim Geon-guk.

Left-handers Kim Ki-hoon and Kim Yoo-shin are also candidates for the lefty rotation, especially Kim, who has been pitching well of late with 3.2 innings of one-hit ball with six strikeouts and no walks in two August appearances in the Futures League and three innings of one-hit ball with three strikeouts and one walk.

A bullpen day could also be an option if one of the alternate starters fails to deliver. This would maximize the use of Lim Ki-young, whose strength is in the long relief role. KIA is likely to be in a five-way battle with the fourth-place NC Dinos and the sixth-place Doosan Bears until the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how the KIA bench fills the void left by Sanchez and Lee in September.

Sanchez will be rehabbing from an elbow injury for the next three weeks. Photo by Kim Young-gu

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