NC Dinos manager Kang Myung-ho, 50, declared an open competition for starting pitchers after taking over as manager after last season. The idea was to strengthen the depth through healthy competition among the starting resources, excluding two foreign pitchers and Koo Chang-mo, who had not been finalized at the time.
The plan was quite specific. The competition would include Song Myung-ki and Shin Min-hyuk, who have been consistent starters in recent years, as well as Choi Sung-young, who has completed his military service, and rookie Shin Young-woo. The team had been criticized for being significantly weakened by the departures of Yang Yang-ji (Doosan Bears), the best catcher in the game, and Drew Ruchinski (Oakland Athletics), their ace for four years. “If the starting lineup is solid, the team can be competitive and go to a higher ranking. We need to develop through competition,” Kang said. “We will prepare up to eight starters to increase our versatility,” he added. 안전놀이터
The plan has worked out perfectly. As of Sept. 29, NC had a starting pitching ERA of 3.37, second only to the LG Twins (3.29). With new foreign pitchers Eric Peddy (8-1, 1.47 ERA in 10 games) and Chang-mo Koo (1-3, 3.28 ERA in eight games) anchoring the rotation, even pitchers who weren’t in the rotation at the start of the season have made their mark.
Rookie of the Year candidate Lee Yong-jun (2-2, 3.45 ERA in seven games) has been the centerpiece of the turnaround. Choi Sung-young (1-0, 1.80 ERA) and veteran Lee Jae-hak (1-0, 1.50 ERA) have also contributed. Lee Jae-hak trained hard for the Futures (second team), preparing for opportunities that could come at any moment, and showed his veteran quality when the team needed him.
Especially when Song Myung-ki (1-4, 4.81 ERA in seven games) and Shin Min-hyuk (3-2, 5.20 ERA in eight games) were off their game, it was thanks to his thorough preparation that he was able to step in at the right time. The cruise of the NC starters is even more encouraging when you consider that another foreign pitcher, Taylor Widener, who didn’t make his debut until the 30th, was sidelined with an injury.