The last piece of the starting lineup you were hoping would come back from injury and do their job is shaky. At a time when they are one game down and need to climb, drastic changes and decisions may be necessary.

Lee In-bok, 32, was the centerpiece of Lotte’s starting rotation last year with a 9-9 record and a 4.19 ERA in 26 games (59 earned runs in 126⅔ innings). However, he underwent Tommy John surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow before the start of spring training and was removed from the early season plans. He prepared for his return in June and actually returned to the first team in late June.

He began the season as a starter, but was temporarily moved to the bullpen due to schedule changes, including a rainout late in the first half. In the second half, he returned to the starting rotation. However, he hasn’t been the “big-time groundballer” we expected last year. In seven games this year, he is 1-3 with a 5.63 ERA. He has one win, but it came on July 9 in relief of LG Electronics (1⅓ scoreless innings). He has yet to win a start.

The injuries and struggles of Lee In-bok, who was counted on to anchor the starting rotation, have thrown Lotte’s starting lineup into disarray. Han Hyun-hee, who initially started the season as the fifth starter, was moved back to the bullpen but recently rejoined the starting rotation following Na Kyun-ahn’s hamstring injury.

Lee In-bok was the one who pushed Han to the bullpen, but he still continues to pitch inconsistently. Against SSG on April 4, he was pulled after giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts in three innings. He’s coming off the mound faster and faster.

As a two-pitch pitcher, he’s going to have to sacrifice some ERA. Last year, he was 3-for-3, this year he’s 3-for-6. However, his long ball rate is alarming. His BABIP jumped from 0.386 last year to 0.495 this year, and he lived up to his nickname as a “groundballer” with a 1.39 groundball-to-flyball ratio last year. This year, he has a 1.61 K/FB ratio.

It’s a tough situation. With Na Gyun-an out, Han Hyun-hee will also have to be utilized as a starter for a while, making it difficult to replace Lee In-bok with someone else. It’s too much to ask for the team to rely on a slumping Lee In-bok to improve their chances of winning even one game.

There’s nothing left for a rebound anymore. The starting lineup will only stabilize once Na Kyun-ahn returns. Still, Lee In-bok struggled in Game 4, but Jung Seong-jong, who was called up again today, came in from the fifth inning and pitched four innings through the eighth, holding the opposition to just one hit. Jung-Seong-jong could be considered an alternate starter. He faced exactly 12 batters. He retired 10 batters in a row starting in the fifth inning, but gave up a hit to Park Sung-ho, the 11th batter. In the ensuing at-bat, he cooked Kim Sung-hyun with a double to center field to tie the game at 1-1. The team tried to turn the tide by retiring the next two batters to end the inning, but were unsuccessful.메이저사이트

Jeong is now 10-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 10 games this year. He pitched four innings of two-hit ball with one walk and four strikeouts as a substitute starter for Samsung last month on March 27, and the bench saw how he handled the long innings once again today. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Lee In-bok could be used in place of Jeong Sung-jong in the future.

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