KT, which wants to continue its upward trend in the regular league, and NC, which is looking for an upset, who will take the lead in PO? 

The professional baseball playoffs are finally coming to an end. The two main characters are KT and NC.

The first round of the 2023 KBO postseason playoffs (best of 5) will be held at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on the 30th. This series will be a match between KT Wiz, who ranked 2nd with 79 wins, 3 draws, and 62 losses in the regular league, and NC Dinos, who ranked 4th (75 wins, 2 draws, 67 losses).

The team that showed the upper hand in the regular season was KT. KT, which had fallen to the bottom due to injuries to key players in the early stages, gradually found its place based on stable pitching ability. The KT pitching staff’s win contribution relative to replacement level (WAR) is 23.71, which is by far the highest among the 10 teams.

In particular, the strength of the starting lineup was great. Led by William Cuevas (12 wins, undefeated, undefeated, ERA 2.60), who replaced Bo Schulser, who was released due to poor performance, and already had a relationship with KT in the 2019-2022 season, Wes Benjamin (15 wins, 6 losses, ERA 3.54), and Ko Young-pyo (12, It is no exaggeration to say that KT’s starting pitching team, comprised of wins, 7 losses, an average ERA of 2.78), exclusion (8 wins, 10 losses, an average ERA of 4.49), and Eom Sang-baek (7 wins, 6 losses, an average ERA of 3.63), is the best in the league.스포츠토토

Based on this, KT showed an advantage over NC in the regular league with a relative record of 10 wins and 6 losses.

In order to dominate the playoffs, KT will feature Cuevas as the starting pitcher on this day. He ranked first in winning percentage this season and also showed a strong side in the fall. He appeared in three postseason games in his career, showing a salty pitch with two wins and an earned run average of 2.20 (4 runs allowed in 16.1 innings). In the 2021 season, he contributed to KT’s first-ever integrated victory with a scoreless pitch in 7 innings in a tiebreaker (first place match) against the Samsung Lions.

Although the sample is small, this year’s performance in the NC game is not bad. He faced off once and pitched 6 innings, allowing 5 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, and 2 runs. However, we need to be wary of Son Ah-seop (performance against Cuevas, 2 hits in 3 at-bats, 1 RBI) and Kim Joo-won (1 hit in 2 at-bats).

However, the batting situation is not good. Above all, the most painful thing is that main gunner Kang Baek-ho is missing. Kang Baek-ho, who was selected by KT in the second first round in 2018, recorded a batting average of 0.317 (702 hits in 2,218 at-bats), 87 home runs, 369 RBIs, and 29 stolen bases in 588 games until last year, growing into a slugger representing Korean baseball.

He hasn’t been good this season. Kang Baek-ho, who suffered from injuries and poor performance, only had a batting average of 0.265 (63 hits in 238 at-bats), 8 home runs, and 39 RBIs in 71 games. Afterwards, he seemed to be gaining momentum by contributing to Korea’s gold medal win at the recently concluded 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, but was left out of the entry due to an internal oblique muscle injury during the Cheongbaek match.

NC, which is fighting against this, is also not an easy opponent. Due to the departure of key players such as Yang Eui-ji (Doosan Bears), Noh Jin-hyuk (Lotte Giants), and Won Jong-hyun (Kiwoom Heroes), they were considered a strong candidate for last place before the opening, but thanks to the harmony of old and new and the even performance of the players, they won a ticket to the fall baseball season in 4th place.

NC’s upward trend continues in the postseason. With the advantage of 4th place, they defeated the Doosan Bears 14-9 in the first game of the wild card match (best of 2 games), which was held with one win. In the semi-playoffs (best of 5 games), they defeated the defending champion SSG Landers with a series record of 3-0, advancing to the playoffs without a single loss.

NC, wanting to continue the good atmosphere, brings in super ace Eric Peddie as the starting pitcher. After joining hands with NC ahead of this season, he left an unrealistic record of 20 wins, 6 losses, 209 strikeouts, and an ERA of 2.00 in 30 regular league games (180.1 innings), winning the Triple Crown (ranking first in multiple wins, strikeouts, and ERA). I became the main character. This is a record previously achieved only by Sun Dong-yeol (Haitai Tigers, 1986, 1989-1991), Ryu Hyun-jin (Hanwha Eagles, 2006), and Yoon Seok-min (KIA, 2011).

However, the season did not end well. On the 16th, as a starting pitcher against the Gwangju KIA Tigers, he pitched 5.2 innings without allowing a run, but was hit on the right forearm by follow-up batter Ko Jong-wook’s batted ball. As a result of this, Peddie was excluded from the wild card match list, and although he was included in the semi-playoff entry, he missed all of them.

There was also an incident. NC coach Kang In-kwon initially announced Peddie as the starting pitcher for Game 3 ahead of Game 2 of the semi-playoffs, but reversed his decision after the game. I went to the hospital for a checkup because my pedi was uncomfortable, and the result was simple collision syndrome. And after quickly improving his physical condition, he finally took the mound as a starting pitcher that day.

However, improving practical sense is a problem that Pedi must solve. He, who has not played a game since the 16th, will play for the first time in 14 days. If Peddie exposes its weaknesses in this area and struggles from the beginning, NC’s upward trend could be greatly reduced.

The bullpen situation is not bad either. During 4 postseason games, the NC bullpen gave up only 9 runs and 8 earned runs over 21.1 innings. Thanks to making it this far without a single defeat, we were given four days of rest.

The hot batting line is also one of NC’s powerful weapons. NC showed off its explosive firepower, producing a total of 32 points during four fall baseball games. This was a result of even performance in the upper and lower batting lineup.

However, the rest day given after the third game of the semi-playoffs could be detrimental to the NC batting line. This is because the good feeling of hitting may return as a result of being somewhat dulled.

In the playoffs, which are historically best-of-five series, the probability of the team that wins the first game advancing to the Korean Series is a whopping 78.1% (25 out of 32). Among KT and NC, which team will be able to smile after this game? A team that sounds like a winner can get as close as possible to a ticket to the Korean Series.