I finally escaped from last place.

This is the story of Lotte, which is currently in second place in the regular season. It sounds like a contradictory story that Lotte, which once jumped up to the sole lead while running 9 consecutive wins, ‘escaped from the bottom’.

But it’s true. 안전놀이터 Lotte had a team ERA of 4.96 until last week, the lowest among 10 clubs. But not anymore. Lotte lost 2-5 against Sajik Doosan on the 9th, and the team’s ERA remained unchanged at 4.96, but KT’s ERA rose to 4.98 and succeeded in escaping from the bottom.

Here, Lotte succeeded in widening the gap in one day, laying the foundation for a higher ranking. As Lotte won Sajik Doosan 3-0 on the 10th, the team’s ERA lowered to 4.77, and KT rather rose to 5.09, experiencing the humiliation of not being able to maintain a 4-point range. In addition, Lotte has narrowed the gap with Samsung (4.51), which ranks 8th in team ERA.

Lotte achieved remarkable results of 9 consecutive victories and sole lead while the team’s ERA hit the bottom all the time. Of course, there is Na Kyun-an, the new ace of the starting pitching staff, but there was no reliable starting pitcher other than Na Kyun-an, and the burden on the bullpen pitching team naturally increased. It was clear that it was a precarious phenomenon from the point of view of a long race with 144 races to be played.

However, as the foreign one-two punch, which had been sluggish for a long time, revived, the team’s mound is gradually finding stability. Dan Strayley pitched 6 innings, 6 hits, 5 strikeouts and 2 runs against Sajik Doosan on the 9th and made his first quality start of the season. Previously, Na Kyun-an was the only pitcher who recorded a quality start among Lotte pitchers. In addition, Charlie Barnes also showed the best pitching this season, pitching well with 2 hits, 8 strikeouts, and no runs in 6⅔innings against Doosan Sajik on the 10th.

▲ Lotte Kim Won-joong (right) and Yu Gang-nam are giving high fives. ⓒLotte Giants

Of course, Lotte’s foreign one-two punch still has a long way to go. This is because Strayley (5.20) and Barnes (5.61) both have average ERAs in the 5-point range for the season, and there is still a difference from the condition that showed the best performance. Still, it is encouraging to see signs of recovery. They need to draw a lot of innings so that Lotte can gain momentum in the long-term race.

In addition to them, Park Se-woong, who did not win a win this year, and Han Hyun-hee, who was brought to free agency but has an average ERA of 7.17 (7.17), must work hard to bring true ‘peace’ to the Lotte mound.

The common goal of Lotte pitchers this year is to pitch aggressively into the strike zone. Lotte coach Larry Sutton expected that even before the start of the regular season, “both young pitchers and newly joined veteran players are entering the strike zone aggressively.” Not all pitchers have achieved their goals yet, but ‘ace’ Na Kyun-an, who has won 9 consecutive wins, and bullpen pitchers are practicing these goals, and the condition of foreign one-two punches is gradually recovering, adding to Lotte Baseball’s sense of stability.

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