SSG Landers was the strongest team in the League last season. They won a ‘wire-to-wire’ championship, staying in first place from the opening game to the final game, making it an unforgettable season. They also took the top spot in the Korean Series, marking their first overall title in 12 years since 2010 when they were the SK Wyverns. The entire squad was able to accomplish their goals despite the ups and downs.
With no major power leaks heading into the season, expectations were high for SSG to challenge for a second straight title. While there were a few free agent signings in the league, there weren’t too many teams that could be considered a serious threat to SSG, with the LG Twins being the number one team to watch out for, as they battled with SSG for the top spot in the regular season last year.
Of course, SSG’s prospects for the 2023 season are not bright. With no significant upside from the previous season’s performance, there were negative predictions, with some experts even predicting that SSG would struggle to compete in the top five, let alone win the championship.
SSG held their own in the first half. While the starting lineup struggled, foreign pitcher Kirk McCarty pitched well, and the team’s core bullpen, including Seo Jin-yong and Noh Kyung-eun, pitched beyond expectations day after day. On top of that, the batting lineup was doing its job, including Guillermo Heredia.
However, in the second half of the season, something started to happen. After facing the relatively lowly Samsung Lions and Hanwha Eagles at the end of July, SSG was content to record three wins and three losses, and lost their first three-game series in August against the Suwon KT Wiz on August 1-3. Two weeks later, from August 15-19, they went on a five-game losing streak, effectively knocking them out of contention and solidifying LG’s dominance.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. SSG’s losses increased significantly in September, and as of the 18th, the team hasn’t won a single winning series and has the worst winning percentage in the entire league with a monthly record of 2-1-1 (0.154) in 14 games. Once ranked as high as first place, SSG has slipped to third, fourth, fifth, and finally sixth place after losing both games of a doubleheader to LG on Sunday. It’s unclear if they’ll even make the postseason.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason for the collapse, as both the bats and the pitching have been in total disarray. The team’s batting average and ERA in September were .260 (6th) and 6.91 (last), respectively, indicating that the team had neither the power of a home run club nor the solidity of a mound.
In other words, the team doesn’t have many players who can play the middle of the order. Last year’s SSG, centered around the “best of the best” Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min, produced meaningful results while pushing the younger players, but it’s hard to see that continuing for years.
Just look at the mound. In the starting rotation, there is no clear starter who can carry the team into the present and future, and even the trusted Oh Won-seok has been struggling. The bullpen is a similar story. Aside from Go Hyo-joon and Seo Jin-yong, there aren’t many pitchers who can be trusted. The ‘rookies’ Song Young-jin and Lee In-roon, who stood out early in the season, need more time.
LG coach Yeom Kyung-yeop, who was battling with SSG for the position throughout the first half of the season, said in a recent interview, “The starter should be young. The backups should be relatively older players. “That doesn’t mean that veteran players shouldn’t play, but that they should play in the 8th or 9th inning to give the younger players a chance to rest and gain experience. That way, the team can continue to win, and creating such a team is the most important thing,” he said, sharing his thoughts on the composition of the squad 토토사이트.
The bigger issue is that it’s not something that can be solved in one fell swoop at the end of the season. You can’t expect young players to make the leap to the first team overnight. There’s a waiting period and a complete overhaul of the team. Will SSG be able to bounce back from their current crisis?