Lotte are not a team to go down and they are not going down.
There is no ‘DTD’ for Lotte. There’s a saying in baseball: “A team that goes down, stays down”. It means that a team that performs well beyond its capabilities in the early stages will eventually return to its place.
This was the case for Lotte last year. After a strong start, Lotte faltered in May with a 9-17 record and ultimately finished the regular season in eighth place, missing the postseason.
This year, there were mixed feelings of concern when Lotte finished April in sole possession of first place. The team didn’t have a reliable starter outside of Na Kyun-ahn, and the batting order, while focused at the plate, didn’t have a ton of firepower overall.
However, Lotte is still on a roll as June approaches. With a 25-15 record and a +10 win-loss margin, Lotte has been cruising through May with an 11-7 record. That’s right. Lotte isn’t a team that’s going down, and they aren’t going down.먹튀검증
So why are they doing so well in May? Firstly, it’s because they have a solid starting pitching staff and a solid bullpen. Lotte’s 2.96 team ERA in May is by far the best in the league. They are the only team with an ERA in the double digits.
Eight of Lotte’s 11 wins in May have come in the first inning. While “April MVP” Na Kyun-ahn has cooled off in May with a 1-1 record and a 4.22 ERA, Park Se-woong (2-1, 1.99), Dan Streeley (2-2, 2.31), Charlie Barnes (1-1, 2.41), and Han Hyun-hee (2-1, 1.13) have collectively rebounded to complete a very strong starting pitching staff.
That’s not to say the bullpen hasn’t been strong. Lotte’s winning formula of Kim Sang-soo in the seventh, Koo Seung-min in the eighth, and Kim Won-joong in the ninth is now fully in place. The best example of this is the 26th against Gochuk Kiwoom. After starting pitcher Staley pitched six scoreless innings, Kim Sang-soo in the seventh, Koo Seung-min in the eighth, and Kim Won-joong in the ninth came in and pitched one scoreless inning to completely shut down Kiwoom. In particular, Koo Seung-min and Kim Won-joong surpassed 10 holds and 10 saves, respectively, and Lotte is currently the only team in the league to have pitchers with double-digit holds and saves at the same time.
In fact, the batting order has been in a state of crisis since foreign-born slugger Jack Rex was sidelined with a knee injury, and Lotte’s team batting average in May ranks seventh at .248, but that’s been offset by Noh Jin-hyuk’s .321 average with two home runs, seven RBIs and four doubles in May and the consistently good hitting of young bloods like Yoon Dong-hee (.310), Kim Min-seok (.306) and Han Dong-hee (.305). In addition, backup infielder Park Seung-wook (.313) has provided a spark whenever he has started. In particular, Yoon Dong-hee has a .556 slugging percentage in scoring position in May, while Han Dong-hee and Park Seung-wook are both over .500. Ahn Chi-hong and Yoo Kang-nam also have a .308 batting average with runners in scoring position in May.
Na Kyun-ahn says the secret to Lotte’s success in May is that “we don’t lose in the atmosphere. Even if we’re losing, we don’t feel like we’re going to lose. Also, my pitching brothers are pitching so well in the bullpen, and the hitters are focused and fighting well in the late innings, which is why we are doing so well in May.” Park Se-woong also said simply, “When any team wins a game, the atmosphere is bound to be good.” “The reason why the atmosphere is good is because we are winning games well,” he said. This is why this May is so different from last May.