What would be the WBC mound management strategy without the KBO league’s strongest pitcher An Woo-jin (Kiwoom, 24)?
With the final list of the 5th 2023 WBC held in March of this year being announced, Korea’s mound operation plan is of interest in a tournament where the best baseball stars representing each country will compete.
On the 4th, WBC national team coach Lee Kang-cheol and WBC national team technical director Jo Beom-hyeon held a press conference at the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and revealed the list of the final 30 members of the WBC national team.
In the final 30 players, there were 15 pitchers, with 8 right-handers, 2 sidearms, and 5 left-handers, with the proportion of right-handed pitchers overall being high.
Centered around veterans Kwang-Hyun Kim and Hyeon-Jong Yang (KIA), Tae-In Won (Samsung), Bin Kwak (Doosan), Chang-Mo Koo (NC), Joon So-Jun (kt), Woo-Seok Ko, Yoon-Sik Kim, Woo-Young Jeong (LG), Yong-Chan Lee (NC), Won-Joong Kim-Se-Woong Park (Lotte), Jeong Cheol-won (Doosan), Ko Young-pyo (kt), and Lee Eui-ri (KIA), etc.
It is also noteworthy that 11 people are selected resources, excluding Jung Woo-young, Lee Yong-chan, Kim Won-joong, and Jeong Cheol-won. The regret is that there are not many pitchers who have rich international experience and experience as an ace at the national team level, except for Kim Gwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong. The mound is expected to be formed around relatively ‘young blood’.
It is also regrettable that Ahn Woo-jin, who had the best performance in the league in the 2022 season, was not able to board due to the problem of ‘school violence’. In 30 games last season, An Woo-jin recorded an average ERA of 2.11/196 innings/224 strikeouts in 30 games last season, and won the Golden Glove in the pitcher category with an overwhelming record of ranking first in three categories: ERA-strikeouts-innings.
His outstanding performance is also a grade, but at the same time, Ahn Woo-jin is also a style that can play an active part in international competitions. He also recorded an average speed of 153.4 km (based on stat teas), the fastest in the KBO league last year. In addition, Ahn Woo-jin’s fastball pitch value ranked second in the league, and slider pitch value ranked first in the league. It is also pointed out that the absence of a pitcher who throws such a powerful and competitive ball is a lack of a clear sense of first starter.
In the end, the national team mound is scheduled to participate in the competition with ‘appointment to destroy positions’. Lee Kang-cheol, coach of the national team, explained, “Kim Gwang-hyeon and Yang Hyeon-jong should play the role of leaders of the players as seniors, and they will be used when it is important.”
In addition, coach Lee Kang-cheol said, “The middle pitcher and closer pitcher can also start. Since there is a limit on the number of pitches per person per game in the tournament, we will use a strategy to bring the game as much as possible,” he said. he explained.
It is also an optimized strategy because there are relatively many starting pitchers who can throw a lot of balls per game, and there are many pitchers who are young and have enough stamina. At the same time, it is also a judgment that takes into account the characteristics of the WBC tournament, which has a limited number of pitches per round.
The WBC limits the number of individual pitches by a pitcher in one match to a maximum of 49 pitches in practice matches, 65 pitches in the first round, 80 pitches in the quarterfinal tournament, and a maximum of 95 pitches after the semifinals. A method in which a batter can be substituted after an opponent who exceeds the pitch limit.
In addition, there are rest days according to the number of pitches and consecutive fights. 30 or more, 1 day break, 50 or more, 4 days break, 2 days continuous fight, 1 day break, in case of double header, 2 games per day cannot be pitched, etc. The goal is to thoroughly protect pitchers in a national team full of major league superstars, but it can be difficult for teams with thin pitching depth. 메이저놀이터
In addition, if you operate a traditional starting pitcher rotation that throws more than 50 pitches, you can only pitch once in the first round because you have to observe a four-day rest day. This is because the Group B match of the first round of the finals will be played over 5 days, starting with Australia on March 9th.
In addition, in the first round, there is a maximum limit of 65 pitches per pitcher per game, so the range of use is not large. In that case, there is a high probability that the starting pitcher will need to divide the game between long innings with a large number of pitches and games that do not.
Therefore, it seems that it was judged that the operation of the mound by cutting off within 30 pitches that require a 1-day break or before 50 pitches that require a 4-day break can be more efficient. Here, the plan is to use experienced veterans Kim Gwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong at important moments after the mid-to-late game.
Compared to the solid fielding team, there are evaluations that the mound power is disappointing, but in international competitions, what is more important is when the strategy and current power of each team are revealed in the competition.
In the previous tournaments, each country with good results, including Korea in the 1st and 2nd tournaments, showed a good use of the characteristics of the tournament, which is the pitch limit. In that standard, it is also a squad that can be sufficiently competitive if the pitchers with their distinct strengths are used well depending on the condition. What will the WBC national team mound, which has both concerns and expectations at the same time, show in the tournament?