To start the 2019 season, the Lotte Giants had a 2-4 record after their first week of baseball. Among the losses was a 23-4 loss to the Samsung Lions. This year, the team has started perfectly at 5-0 in their first week, something no other team could do.
With success has come a few patterns that indicate where the team could do much better and where they the strongest.
Three Patterns In The Lotte Giants
Losing? Maybe Warming Up: Late Bats
In almost all of their wins throughout the week, the Giants didn’t open up too much with scoring until late in the game.
In their five games so far, 64.7 percent of runs scored by the Giants came in innings seven to nine.
Their opponents led 16 innings over five games, with the Giants leading 15 (nine of them coming from their Wednesday game with the Wiz, the only game that broke the pattern displayed all week). The Giants have taken a while to get on the board in almost all games, however, that’s seemingly been working for them.
Giants fans may have to become accustomed to watching games start to finish and not tuning out early or coming to early conclusions about how the games will go.
Starting Rotation Yet To Shine
While the offence has matched and bested what has countered it in every game thus far, the Giants need to stop the momentum of teams earlier. The early inning pitching and defence from the team has caused the need for catch-up victories. The pitching has been good for the most part, although it clearly needs fine-tuning.
Two names from the bullpen have been the most visible so far: starter Dan Straily and closer Kim Won-joong.
While having the benefit of starting two games already, a thing most pitchers didn’t get in week one, Straily has put on two impressive performances, allowing six hits through 12.2 innings and getting 15 strikeouts. His pitching performance on opening night was paired against the equally impressive work done by Odrisamer Despaigne of the KT Wiz, who allowed only four runs through six innings.
Closer Kim Won-joong has appeared three times, shutting down batters all three times. Out of the nine outs he’s been present for, three of them have been strikeouts. The consistency from Won-joong, along with a pretty solid bullpen in late innings, has been a large factor to the turning of tides that happen late in most games.
Dixon Machado Steals The Show
It would be criminal to mention the hot bats of the Giants and not mention the work Dixon Machado has been putting on.
Already attaining eight RBIs including three home runs, Machado has earned a quick residency in the nightly highlight reel. Machado has been equally impressive at shortstop, earlier in the week doing leaps or borderline-splits for an out.
Formerly in the American minor leagues, Machado has needed no time to warm up to baseball in Korea.
No Comfort In Top Placing
While the first-place ranking of the Giants is worth mentioning, it’s nothing to hold dear and close. The 5-1 Kiwoom Heroes sit only half a game behind, and a full game behind is the NC Dinos with a 4-1 record.
The strong first week could definitely be a sign of something. It could be a sign that the team has improved largely since last year. But, it could also be a strong start and nothing more. Only time will tell whether the perfect first five appearances will be gawked at as a false hope or a sign of a shift in the league’s power.
On Tuesday, the Giants welcome their biggest challenge yet, defending Korean Series Champions, the Doosan Bears. The Bears have opened the season with a 3-2 record, most recently beating the KT Wiz 13-12.