Eight games remain until the end of the first half. Can Lotte, who are tied for third place, end the first half of the season without a ‘slump’?
Lotte has had a rough stretch since June, going 9-18 since then. They still have a winning percentage in the top five (.507), but they’ve been on a shaky run, dropping a two-game series to Doosan last weekend.
Lotte needs to turn things around. Lotte has been hit hard by injuries, but with the impending arrival of a “complete” lineup, things could be about to change.
First of all, Lotte has its “homegrown ace” Na Gyun-ahn and closer Choi Jun-yong back. Na Gyun-ahn is back from right elbow inflammation and is set to start against Hanwha on May 5, while Choi Jun-yong is also back from a back injury.
Lotte manager Larry Sutton first spoke about Na Gyun-ahn, saying, “We don’t have a limit on how many pitches he can throw. We’ll keep an eye on him,” and on Choi, he said, “He can pitch in comfortable situations, but he can also pitch in close games. His physical condition is very good and he seems to be mentally prepared.”
In addition, “free agent shortstop” Noh Jin-hyuk, who was sidelined with a left side injury, made a strong start to his comeback. In the Futures League game against KT at Sangdong Stadium on April 4, Noh started at second base and had a “three-hit” game with two hits, one walk, one strikeout, and two runs scored in four at-bats. With a satisfactory result in his first real game since his injury, he is expected to gain momentum in his return to the first team.
With their return, Sutton expects the bullpen to regain some stability and the offense to break out of its slump. “We’re hoping to push as hard as we can before the All-Star break and finish the first half strong,” Sutton said.토스카지노
“I think the bullpen as a whole needs to be consistent,” Sutton said. “Obviously, they’ve done a great job so far and that’s why we’re here. We want them to be more consistent in their roles,” Sutton said. “The hitters are working hard, too. We have some guys who come out before practice and work on the concept of early work. Others are staying after the game to work on their batting and try to overcome the slump. Hopefully, the batting cycle will pick up.”
With 36 wins and 35 losses in 71 games, nearly half of their 144-game schedule, the question is, how much can Lotte improve their win-loss margin to finish the first half? “If we can finish the first half with +2 wins, +3 wins, +4 wins, or more than that,” Sutton said, “it will put the team in a better mood, and it will put us in a better place.