Lotte’s Dizzying 5-Game Gamble? ‘Password 1.15-1.88’ for 28-year-old lefty with raised hand and New Talbo righty

Lotte manager Larry Sutton announced last week that he would use foreign pitchers Charlie Barnes (28) and Aaron Wilkerson (34) on a “five-day turn” before the first game of a three-game series against Kiwoom. In the KBO, unless it’s a 꽁머니 Tuesday-Sunday pitching rotation, it’s customary for pitchers to make a five-day turn after a four-day break, not a five-day turn after a four-day break.

However, foreign pitchers who have played in the United States are relatively accustomed to pitching on five days’ rest. Moreover, Lotte is a win-now team this year. In the final season of Sutton’s contract, the team is in the hunt for a top-five finish. Both on the field and at the front office, there is a sense that their fate could be determined by how they perform this year.

Usually, when pitchers are pulled, the “end” is not good. It’s still mid-August, unless you’re in the final stretch of a pennant race a week or two before the end. A manager of another team in the top five, like Lotte, recently said, “It’s still not a game.” While he emphasized the importance of winning each game over the standings, he also made it clear that it’s not the time to go all in and not look back.

However, Sutton’s choice is hardly a gamble. It makes sense when you look at Lotte’s starting lineup. Currently, Lotte’s starting lineup has been significantly weakened by the lack of depth in their top three to five spots. Na Kyun-ahn has been out since July 25 against Doosan due to injury.

Park Se-woong has a huge disparity between May and June and July and August. In May and June, he was dominant with a 1.88 ERA in three wins and a 1.56 ERA in one loss. But in July, he lost three games with a 5.40 ERA and lost two games with a 5.79 ERA. I’m worried about the Asian Games. In addition, Han Hyun-hee, who was brought in as a free agent, is also an unsettling addition.

This leaves us with a strategy of utilizing Barnes and Wilkerson as much as possible to rack up wins. Rather than a dead-end gamble, it’s the last gamble Lotte can realistically take. However, this gamble is off to a good start.

Barnes’ reverse pitch. Raising the height of his glove has made him a completely different pitcher/Los Angeles Giants

In preparation for this season, Barnes lowered the height of his gloved arm. After a season last year, he said he felt like hitters were picking up on his pitching habits and responding to them. He lowered his arm height in spring training, which he credits with his ups and downs in the first half of the season. As a result, he started pitching with his arm height back up to his chest in the set position. Both his balance and rhythm improved. The quality of his pitches has improved.

So far, the decision to send down Dan Straily in favor of Wilkerson has paid off. In four starts, he’s 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA. In three quality starts, he has a .212 batting average and a 0.92 WHIP. He rarely throws strikes and has a good cutter. He doesn’t have a lot of four-pitch mix, including a slider and changeup.

This is encouraging for Lotte because it means he has the ability to use a variety of pitches in different situations. What’s more, he only walked four batters in 24 innings. It’s proof that he’s adjusting well to the strike zone. He seems to be a pitcher with good fingertip feel. Kia manager Kim Jong-kook admitted that Wilkerson is a tricky pitcher.

Now, Lotte can only wait and see. Inevitably, a pitching schedule with one less day of rest will be vulnerable to fatigue. Even if the parties are familiar with each other, Barnes is already pitching full-time, which is a concern. Wilkerson is no stranger to mental fatigue, as all of his surroundings are unfamiliar.

Nevertheless, Lotte has no choice but to pull this one out for the quarterfinals, and we’ll find out in October. They need Na Kyun-ahn to come back healthy and Park Se-woong and Han Hyun-hee to play well. The team will not be able to guarantee a top-five finish with only foreign pitchers.


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