10 teams in the 2023 KBO League wake up from hibernation and enter spring camp. As the transfer of players in Stove League, including FA, has been completed to some extent, various observations are being made about the season.

The outlook for this season is somewhat mixed for the Doosan Bears, who fell to 9th place last year and put an end to the ‘dynasty’ humiliatingly. Optimism is raised that expectations are high as the FA’s largest fish, Yang Eui-ji, has been recruited for a total of 15.2 billion won over 6 years, the highest amount ever. However, there is also a realistic theory that Yang Eui-ji alone will not be able to achieve ‘restoration of the dynasty’ at once.

Doosan’s team performance is likely to be influenced by the bullpen, which will crack down on back doors. The Doosan bullpen ranked 9th with an ERA of 4.80 and 5th with an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.746, and its competitiveness declined. The analysis that the aftermath of the accumulated bullpen abuse came last year gained strength by advancing to the Korean Series for 7 consecutive years until 2021.

The expected factor for the Doosan bullpen is the so-called ‘FA Lloyd’ of Pil Seung-jo, right-handed fireballer Kim Kang-ryul and Hong Kun-hee. Both players will first acquire FA qualifications side by side after the end of this season. 안전놀이터

Kim Kang-ryul, who joined Doosan in 2007, seemed to settle down as a finishing pitcher belatedly, harvesting 21 saves in 2021. With the start of last year’s season, it seemed like a natural consequence to continue to take on the heavy finishing role. Kim Kang-ryul, who appeared in 13 games in the month of April, threw a total of 14.2 innings, showing off an overwhelming start with 3 wins, 8 saves, an average ERA of 0.00, and a POPS of 0.449. 

However, Kim Kang-ryul suffered from sluggish performances and injuries in May and fell from the finish line. After being excluded from the first team entry due to biceps pain on June 5, he belatedly returned to the first team on September 20. However, when Kim Kang-ryul returned to the first team, Doosan had already fallen to 9th place. Kim Kang-ryul appeared in 26 games and finished the season with an unsatisfactory record of 3 wins, 4 losses, 9 saves and 1 hold, an ERA of 4.38 and an OPS of 0.770.

It was Hong Kun-hee who took the place of Kim Kang-ryul as the finisher. Hong Geon-hee, who had the most saves in a season with 4 saves in 2016 during the KIA Tigers, harvested 18 saves last year and settled as a new finisher for Doosan. Hong Kun-hee took the mound in 58 games and accepted a record of 2 wins, 9 losses, 18 saves, 9 holds, an average ERA of 3.48, and an OPS of 0.666. 

Hong Kun-hee, who was traded from KIA in June 2020, is considered a representative trade success story. This is because Hong Kun-hee, who received many opportunities at KIA but had not even been decided on a position, came to Doosan and transformed into a complete transformation through setup man Pil Seung-jo. He uses Jamsil Stadium, which is most advantageous for pitchers, as his home, and his confident power pitching with a focus on fastballs was effective.

The physical condition of the two pitchers is expected to determine not only Doosan’s team performance, but also the size of free agency contracts for Kim Kang-ryul and Hong Kun-hee. If you complete the season healthy without any unexpected injuries, your individual and team performance will naturally follow, and you will be treated well with a free agent contract. Attention is focusing on whether Kim Kang-ryul and Hong Kun-hee will reach the ‘FA jackpot’ after taking the lead in restoring Doosan’s honor.

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