The Lotte Giants were the most active in the free agent (FA) market after finishing the 2022 season with 64 wins, 4 draws, 76 losses and a win rate of 0.457 in 8th place. Lotte invested a total of ’17 billion won’, excluding non-FA multi-year contracts. Lotte signed a 4-year, 8 billion won contract with Yoo Kang-nam, a 4-year 5 billion won contract with Roh Jin-hyeok, and a 3+1 year 4 billion won contract with Han Hyun-hee, and achieved the reinforcement of the ‘center line’, which had been considered the most problematic.
Lotte, which has never been on the postseason stage since 2017, 스포츠토토spent a long time healthy reducing the size of the squad and nurturing promising players until this season. And judging that the 2022-2023 FA market is the best time to invest, it took a very aggressive move. However, the performance at the beginning of the season was obviously disappointing with a win rate of 5 wins and 7 losses at 0.417 (7th place).
At the beginning of the season, the biggest problem Lotte is struggling in the ranking battle is the starting lineup. The average ERA of Lotte’s starting team was 5.46, 9th in the league. It’s improved a little from the way he scored 6 points a few days ago, but it’s still disappointing. Among them, the sluggishness of the foreign one-two punch, which leads to ‘hairy ace’ Dan Strayley and ‘left-handed lion’ Charlie Barnes, is very fatal.
Called the “left-handed lion,” Barnes took the mound in 31 games last year, going 12-12 with an average ERA of 3.62. In particular, Barnes appeared in six games in April of last year and won as many as five wins, displaying phenomenal performances with an average ERA of 0.65, and had a monthly MVP ‘fight in the house’ with Han Dong-hee.
In the process of playing the season, his stamina would drop due to a 4-day break, etc., and he would come out disappointed, but there was no case of sluggishness like now. Barnes started the season as the 4th starter, judging that adjustment was necessary as he was sluggish with an ERA of 7.36 and 1 loss in 3 games even in the demonstration game. However, he has an average ERA of 10.80 per loss in two games this year.
Barnes was especially strong against left-handed hitters (0.222) compared to right-handed hitters (0.267 hit rate) last year. Because of this, he was nicknamed ‘The Seated Lion’. However, this year, he is weaker against left-handed hitters (0.474) than against right-handed hitters (0.333). Even if you look only at his record, it can be seen that he has lost his ‘merit’.
‘Hairbo Ace’ Strayley is not much different. Strayley played an active role in the 2020 season with a 15-4 ERA of 2.50 and a 10-12 ERA of 4.07 in the 2021 season, then left Lotte’s renewal contract behind and returned to the major leagues for his ‘dream’. Strayley did not succeed in the big leagues, and he joined hands with Lotte again during last season.
After his return, Strayley appeared in 11 games and went 4-2 with an ERA of 2.31, showing off his performance as an ‘ace’ for two consecutive years. However, he recorded an average ERA of 6.43 per loss in two exhibition games this year, and is struggling with an average ERA of 5.74 with two losses in three regular season games. In particular, in the last Daegu Samsung Lions match, he was unable to show his ‘first starter’ appearance to expectations, such as staying in the 130km range of the fastball restraint zone.
Currently, the NC Dinos are Taylor Widener, who can be called an active big leaguer, and the Doosan Bears are in a situation where Dylan Pyle has been out of the line from the start of the season due to an injury, but the team’s starting average ERA and team performance are better than Lotte. Lotte is currently in a situation where both foreign players are healthy, but they are not able to help much.
Coach Larry Sutton said, “Barnes wasn’t the best pitcher, but I’m trying to play a role as a team starter I dragged out 4 innings,” he replied calmly. However, the unexpected sluggishness would have burned the inside of the command tower.
The reason why foreign players invest a large amount of over 1 billion won a year is because they want their performance to match. They must bring victory to the team without being pushed back in the competition for the 1st and 2nd selection. Strayley and Barnes have clearly shown good performances last year or in the past. However, the early season appearance is close to ‘worst’.
It remains to be seen whether Lotte, which must produce results this year, will wait for foreign pitchers to rebound or draw a knife quickly. Although he played only 13 games in the season, the team’s record in the games where Straley and Barnes appeared was 1 win and 4 losses.