Going all the way, SSG – the third-place ticket you want to grab
The battle for third place in the KBO has come down to the wire.
The LG Twins clinched their first regular season title in 29 years, while the KT Wiz went from last place to second place. With the KIA Tigers clinching the final sixth place in the regular season on April 14, the postseason (PS) spots are all set. However, the battle for spots 3-5 is still up in the air.
The SSG Landers, NC Dinos, and Doosan Bears are still battling it out for a direct ticket to the semi-playoffs (Semi-PO). Through 14 days, the three teams were tied for third place, but while SSG took a 15-day break, NC defeated the Samsung Lions 5-3. Doosan lost to LG 2-5. This leaves NC-SSG-Doosan in a three-way tie for third through fifth place. Only half a game separates the third-, fourth-, and fifth-place teams, which could change at any time. There are two games remaining.
“We can’t let go of the tension until the end,” said SSG Landers head coach Kim Won-hyung. To achieve higher goals in the postseason, a third-place finish in the regular season would be an absolute advantage. What’s more, SSG, Doosan and NC are all still in the hunt for the final spot with two games to go, so they’re likely to go all out with their aces in the bag. In this case, even if they make it through the Wild Card Decider, which starts on the 19th, they will be under a lot of physical and mental pressure. To avoid this, it would be absolutely advantageous to secure a direct ticket to the Semi-Finals.
SSG is even more eager to secure third place, having been in the lead until early August. If nothing else, they want to maintain their pride as the ‘defending champions’.
SSG is in desperate need of a “higher up” as their top two hitters are currently out with injuries. Choi, who leads the team in home runs (29) and RBIs (87) and is batting .297, injured his left hamstring against KIA on April 10 and has been expunged from the first team roster. It’s not a serious injury, but he’ll need a week of rest to see how he feels. If SSG has to play the wild-card game, he could be pushed, but he risks re-injuring the injury and won’t be in perfect condition. “It’s hard to say exactly,” Kim Won-hyung said when asked if he would be available for the semi-finals. 안전놀이터
SSG Kirk McCarty, who went 9-5 with a 3.39 ERA this season, ended the regular season with a right adductor muscle injury. His recovery from the Sept. 23 injury has been slower than expected. The pain is mostly gone, with only some tightness remaining. Even if he throws soon, it’s unlikely he’ll be able to pitch in the wild-card game. There is a small chance he could pitch after the semifinals.
SSG is desperate to fight hard in fall baseball and secure a third place finish so that their main players can recover a little more. SSG will face Doosan on October 16-17. If they can take both games, they can secure at least fourth place on their own. Notably, SSG has an overwhelming advantage against Doosan this year with 9 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw. The two teams will meet in Jamsil on the 16th and Incheon on the 17th. Elias will start the game on the 16th, while Kim Kwang-hyun will be available in the rotation on the 17th. Elias is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in three games against Doosan this season. Kim has a 3.31 ERA against Doosan.