“I feel like I’m going crazy. I can’t sleep, I don’t feel like I’m eating anything, and I feel like I’m in that state.”
NC Dinos head coach Kang In-hwa spoke to the media on the 23rd of this month, before the second game of the semi-finals. Although he’s experienced the postseason as a coach, this is Kang’s first postseason as a manager since starting his career, and he was worried.
This fall, however, NC won four consecutive games, from the wild-card deciding game against the Doosan Bears on the 19th to the third game of the semi-finals against the SSG Landers on the 25th, to secure a spot in the playoffs.
They did this despite being without Koo Chang-mo, who was injured again after returning to the team at the end of the season, and “ace” Eric Peddie, who had to be rested after being hit by a hard hit ball in his last appearance of the regular season.
In the last four games, three pitchers have taken the mound: Tanner Tully, who started the wild-card deciding game and Game 3 of the semifinals, and Shin Min-hyuk and Song Myung-ki, who started Games 1 and 2 of the semifinals. On the surface, it’s hard to see how NC didn’t drop a single game when they didn’t have any pitchers to serve as anchors in the starting lineup.
The answer lies in the timing of the pitching changes.
Going back to the Wild Card Game, NC only gave Tanner four innings before activating the bullpen midway through the game. Lee Jae-hak, Kim Young-kyu, Ryu Jin-wook, Lim Jeong-ho, and Lee Yong-chan pulled out all the stops for the win. Despite the fact that the fourth-place team had an advantage over the fifth-place team in the regular season due to the nature of the wild-card game, NC did not consider a scenario where they would have to play a second game. The effort they put into winning Game 1 paid off.
This bullpen play continued into the semifinals. Shin Min-hyuk, who had been pitching well in the first game of the semifinals, was pulled from the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Kim Young-gyu came in and shut down SSG’s bullpen with 1⅓ innings of scoreless relief without a hit or walk. NC also showed their determination to win by using Ryu Jin-wook and Lee Yong-chan from the first game of the series.
The timing of NC’s bench substitutions was even better in Games 2 and 3. Prior to Game 2, Kang analyzed Song Myung-ki, saying, “I would really appreciate it if he threw as long as possible, but there was always a hump after the batting order went around, so I’m going to try to think about the timing of the pitching change in the second at-bat (of the opposing batters).”
As Kang explained, Song Myung-ki had pitched three consecutive scoreless innings in the first inning before giving up a two-run single to Han Yoo-seom in the bottom of the fourth. The NC bullpen was ready to go, as the team immediately called on Choi Sung-young after the home run, and the second pitcher pitched 1⅔ innings of scoreless relief with three strikeouts and no walks. Lee Jae-hak, Kim Young-kyu, Ryu Jin-wook, and Lee Yong-chan followed suit to close out the game. 토스카지노 주소
The third game also came down to the bench. Tanner gave up a bunch of runs in the second inning, including a leadoff double, and brought in Lee Jae-hak in the top of the third. Lee allowed just one run in 2⅔ innings, while Young-gyu, Ryu Jin-wook, Lim Jung-ho, and Lee Yong-chan relieved him.