NC WORRIES ABOUT ‘BACKBONE’ RYU JIN-WOOK-KIM YOUNG-GYU’S RELIABLE BACK DOOR

The NC Dinos bullpen has been one of the best in the league this season. The bullpen has combined for 88 holds (2nd in the league) while posting a 3.92 ERA (3rd in the league). Their 32.49% walk rate is the second lowest among the 10 teams. In particular, the combination of right-hander Ryu Jin-wook (27) and left-hander Kim Young-kyu (23) is formidable. Ryu, who was delayed in making his first-team debut due to two elbow surgeries, has a 2.15 ERA in 70 games, 67 innings and 22 holds this season. Young-gyu Kim, who joined the team in 2018, has gradually improved his game, posting a 3.06 ERA with 24 holds in 63 games and 61⅔ innings this year.

NC is the only team to have two players in the top five in holds this season. Kim Young-kyu is tied for third and Ryu Jin-wook is tied for fifth .Ryu Jin-wook and Kim Young-kyu were the unsung heroes of the wild-card game against the Doosan Bears on April 19.Seo Ho-chul, who had six RBIs, including a walk-off home run, and Kim Hyung-jun, who hit a multi-homer game, stood out, but it was the duo that held the Doosan bats scoreless .Kim was handed the ball with runners on second and third in the top of the fifth inning with the score tied 5-5.Kim gave up back-to-back singles to put runners on second and third, but he struck out pinch-hitter Park Joon-young on a full count to escape the jam.

Kim Young-gyu gave way to Ryu Jin-wook with two outs in the top of the sixth inning with the score 6-5.Ryu threw three fastballs that reached 150 kilometers per hour against Doosan’s Yang Yang-ji to get a grounder to put out the fire. Kim Young-gyu and Ryu Jin-wook picked up their first career postseason wins and holds, respectively .After the game, NC manager Kang Shin-hyun expressed his faith in the bullpen, explaining his decision to bring in Pilseung-jo in the top of the fifth inning, saying, “I thought that if we cut down on the runs a little bit, the offense would come through.” The recent struggles of closer Lee Yong-chan, who has been a stalwart of the bullpen this season, are a concern.

Lee has been a stalwart in the NC back door this season, securing 29 wins in 35 save opportunities .However, the last three games of the regular season didn’t end well for him, as he allowed five runs (five earned) on six hits in two innings. In the wild-card game, he came in with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to preserve the win, but gave up three runs (three earned) on three hits in one inning of work in the ninth .”He’s been a closer for a season, and I don’t think it’s right to change him (at this point),” Kang said, adding, “I’ll have to think about whether 슬롯게이밍 to move him forward or keep him in the same position.”

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