Wyverns manager discounts any advantage going into seriesThe SK Wyverns manager, Kim Sung-geun, is quick to dismiss those who think the Wyverns hold a strong advantage over the winner of the second round of the playoffs, which was determined in the fifth and deciding game last night.
Having finished first overall in the KBO regular season standings, SK has had plenty of time to recuperate and prepare for the best-of-seven Korean Series, which is set to start on Friday night in Incheon. The Samsung Lions and Doosan Bears, on the other hand, were embroiled in a tight series that stretched to five games. The third-seeded Bears advanced to the second round after a tough five-game first-round series against the Lotte Giants. Conventional wisdom would indicate that the physical toll of a five-game playoff series on the winner of the previous round would give SK a big advantage, but Kim disagrees.
“Both teams have played 133 regular season games,” Kim said. “Just because a team plays an additional 10 games in the first and second round of the playoffs, it doesn’t mean it will have any impact on the conditioning of the team.
“Doosan’s and Samsung’s bullpen have been giving up a lot of runs, but that will all change in the Korean Series. Even batters who have not played up to their capabilities can recover in the Korean Series. Pitcher and hitters can only improve by playing in more games.”
Kim also points to a disadvantageous postseason rule. SK, Samsung and Doosan had to submit their Korean Series roster five days prior to game one of the series. Kim believes this rule will work in favor of the winner of the second round series.
“Doosan and Samsung submitted rosters knowing they would face SK in the finals,” Kim said. “But we had to submit our roster without knowing who we would face. When deciding on a roster entry, the coaching staff usually mulls over one or two players. We have a pitcher who has proved to be strong against Samsung and a hitter who has played well against Doosan. We didn’t even have an opportunity to consider such options.”
The Wyverns have had 18 days to recuperate since the end of the regular season. During this time, starting pitcher Gary Glover recovered from an injury, pitching in two practice games.
“After much deliberation, I decided to include Glover on the roster,” Kim said. “I’m still not sure if he will be able to perform well in games but he can play a key role for us in the series.”
If Glover is inserted in the starting rotation, he would take on the third spot and bolster an already potent rotation featuring Kim Kwang-hyun and Ken Kadokura. Glover went 6-8 with a 5.66 ERA in the regular season.
SK’s bullpen has also recovered from the break. Southpaw closer Lee Seung-ho posted 20 saves this year while right-handed closer Song Eun-beom, who managed eight saves with a 2.30 ERA, did not allow a single run in save situations this year. Lefty relief pitchers like Jun Byung-doo and Jung Woo-ram have also regained their midseason form. The only bad note out of the bullpen is that Ko Hyo-joon will miss the series due to shoulder pain.
By Ha Nam-jik [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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