“Fifth place. Maybe even third place.”

KIA’s Choi Hyung-woo (40), who has had his share of ups and downs in the KBO, told reporters after the team’s win over Changwon NC on July 26. He said that KIA’s power structure was good. At that time, they had already acquired Kim Tae-gun and built a complete batting lineup. They had just signed Thomas Pannoni and Mario Sanchez to complete their starting lineup.

On that day, KIA was in seventh place with 37 wins, 41 losses, and one draw. They were 1.5 games behind fifth-place KT. Fast forward a month. KT had moved up to second place after finishing fourth and third. Kia has struggled to break into the top five, but recently overtook Doosan. Fourth-place NC is also within one game.

18 wins, 9 losses, and 1 draw in 28 games. Their recent seven-game winning streak has increased their win-loss margin to +5. In the end, with the power of a complete batting lineup, they took down KT closer Kim Jae-yoon, Hanwha ace Felix Peña, and NC express ace Eric Pedi one after another. Lee’s shoulder muscle soreness and Sanchez’s elbow discomfort prevented him from fielding a full five-man lineup, but the power of his batting helped him gain momentum.

The triple-setters of Choi Won-jun, Park Chan-ho, and Kim Do-young, and the synergy of the No. 3-6 center field lineup of Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, Socrates Brito, and Kim Sun-bin, have been outstanding. Kim Tae-gun has also been on fire since August. Lee Woo-sung also contributes when facing left-handed pitchers. Except for first base, they can hit in all positions.

Anchored by ace Panoni, the starting lineup of Yang Hyun-jong, Lee Yi-ri, and Yoon Young-cheol can hold up well even when they are not overwhelmed. If the starters hold up, the bats will bring the game to life, and the bullpen, which has improved this season, will open the door to victory.토토사이트

As Choi said, they’ve gotten up to fifth place and are starting to look at third. They’re within 2.5 games of third-place SSG with back-to-back wins, and they’re within one game of fourth-place NC. If KIA can win eight straight games against SSG in Incheon on the 3rd, they will be within 1.5 games of SSG. Above all, there is no reason for KIA to be so far behind SSG and NC in terms of strength.

Crisis is inevitable. The absolute driving force behind the seven-game winning streak was the bats, not the mound. Hitters go through cycles. At this point, it’s all downhill from here. Eventually, the bullpen will have to step up to the plate to make a push for third place. That’s the risk of a four-man rotation. Starting with Sanchez, the performance of Lee’s replacement from the end of September onward will be crucial.

In fact, it’s not enough to just make the postseason. Fifth place is not the ultimate goal for KIA after the 2021 season, which is why they hired a team president and manager, signed Na Sung-beom and Yang Hyun-jong, and traded Kim Tae-gun this year. For now, KIA has the potential to be a game-changer in the fall.

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