The aces who failed to win the opening game, will the jinx without a win in the opening game be broken this year?
The opening of the 2023 KBO regular league is just around the corner. This is the 42nd season since the high-pitched sound in 1982.
The first button must be sewn well. Whether it is the home team or the away team, the opening game is meaningful. So, the best aces from each team were selected as the starters for the opening match.
All matchups for the opening match have been confirmed. In Jamsil, Dan Strayley (Lotte) and Raul Alcantara (Doosan). In Literature, Shawn Anderson (KIA)-Kwanghyun Kim (SSG), in Daegu, Eric Peddy (NC), David Buchanan (Samsung), in Suwon, Casey Kelly (LG), Wes Benjamin (KT), in Gocheok, Birch Smith (Hanwha), Woojin Ahn (Kiwoom) will be the starting pitcher.
There are only two domestic players, the KBO’s best left and right pitchers, Kim Gwang-hyun and An Woo-jin, and the other 8 are all foreign players. Anderson, Peddy, and Smith, who started as new foreign players, showed impressive pitching in the demonstration game, but it is still unknown how they will perform in the regular league.
On the other hand, the other five foreign players with KBO league experience, including Kim Gwang-hyun and An Woo-jin, are sure to be one-punch of the team. Among them, 6 of them, excluding Benjamin, have experience as a starter in the opening game of the KBO League. Strangely, however, no pitcher has ever won the opening game.
Kim Gwang-hyun was selected for the opening match for the 4th time in 4 years since 2019. After playing in the Major League St. Louis for two years, he returned to the domestic stage last year and recorded 13 wins, 3 losses, and an ERA of 2.13 in 28 games, and is the best left-handed pitcher in Korea who led SSG to a combined championship.
Kim Gwang-hyun, who joined SK Wyverns (predecessor of SSG) in 2007, received his first selection in the opening game against Nexen (currently Kiwoom) in the Munhak home game on March 29, 2014, in his 8th year. He suffered his first loss with 5 hits, 3 walks and 4 runs (3 earned runs) in 5 innings.
And two years later, on April 1, 2016, as a starter for the opening game against Munhak kt, Kim Yeon-hoon and Yoon Yo-seop, who once ate a pot of rice, allowed 2 home runs, 4 ⅔ innings, 9 hits (2 home runs), 3 walks, 4 strikeouts and 7 runs. suffered a defeat
Even in 2019, when he was the third starter, he could not make a connection with Seungri. This time, it was also a literary kt exhibition. He gave up 8 hits (1 home run), 3 walks, 7 strikeouts and 4 runs in 6 innings. Fortunately, defeat was avoided.
So far, ERA 8.04 (15 runs, 14 earned runs in 15⅔ innings) with 2 losses without a win in 3 opening games. For Kim Gwang-hyun, who has 149 wins, one less than 1 win in his career, and an average ERA of only 3.17, it is strange that he has no wins in the opening game and an ERA that is more than twice as high.
Samsung’s Buchanan and Lotte’s Strayley are starting for the third opening game, but they also failed to establish a relationship with victory.
Buchanan will be the starting pitcher for the opening game for three consecutive years from 2021 to this season, but like Kim Gwang-hyun, he has two consecutive losses in the opening game. On April 3, 2021, he faced Eric Yokishi in the opening game against Kiwoom in Gocheok, and had his first loss with 5 ⅔ innings, 7 hits, 3 runs, 8 strikeouts, 5 runs and 4 earned runs. Despite 6 innings, 7 hits, 4 runs, 4 strikeouts and 2 runs, he lost.
In the Suwon opening match against kt in 2020, which opened on May 5, Children’s Day due to the Corona 19 pandemic, Strayley had no win or loss with 3 hits (1 home run) 4 strikeouts and 2 runs in 5⅔ innings, and on April 4, 2021, against SSG ( In Literature), he lost the game with 5 strikeouts and 3 runs in 6 innings.
In addition, Ahn Woo-jin, Alcantara, and Kelly each have experience in starting the opening game once. This is the second opener selection.
An Woo-jin, who became the best pitcher in the KBO League by winning two crowns in strikeouts (224) and ERA (2.11) last year, also faced Charlie Barnes in the opening game against Lotte last year, giving a quality start of 6 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts and 2 runs. but suffered defeat. Expectations are high that this year, he will be able to show off the might of the best ace in the KBO in the face of Birch Smith, a new outsider.
After winning 20 wins in 2020, Alcantara, who advanced to Nippon Professional Baseball and returned to the KBO after 3 years, started against LG, a rival in Jamsil, on May 5, 2020 and faced Cha Woo-chan, but 6 hits in 6 innings (1 home run) He took the loss with 3 walks and 3 runs.
Kelly, who posted double-digit wins every year during the 4 KBO seasons and ranked first in most wins last year, faced Drew Luchinski in the opening match against Changwon NC on April 4, 2021, and ended in a draw with 5 innings and 1 run.
The reason why the coaches of each team picked them for the opening match is simple. Because everyone believes they can win.
SSG coach Kim Won-hyeong showed strong belief, saying, “Kwang-hyun Kim does not need any other modifiers. He is Korea’s number one ace.” Kiwoom coach Won-gi Hong said, “Ahn Woo-jin is the best pitcher recognized by others in Korea. He enjoys big games and makes powerful pitches.” .
LG coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop said, “I chose Kelly, the ace, to beat kt,” and Samsung coach Park Jin-man said, “I think I know a lot about Korean baseball and felt a lot of lacking areas last year. A background was explained. 먹튀검증
Lotte coach Larry Sutton said, “I have experience in starting the opening game, and I chose Strayley for the best matchup.” It will not come easily,” he said, sending his faith to Alcantara.
The coaches who set up a freshman foreigner who will be making their debut this year as a starter explained the background of their selection as the starter for the opening match in their own way, saying, “I showed good shape in the demonstration game and the current condition is the best. I chose it as the winning card for the opening match.
Coaches always promise victory, but a day later will tell whether the jinx, which is the aces with the highest probability of bringing victory to the team but has yet to win the opening game, will be broken this season or will continue as it is.