Recapping Day 36 of the KBO

All you need to know from Day 36 of KBO action.

You’ll never believe this – but the NC Dinos won again. At 26-9, they are comfortably in 1st place. The Samsung Lions shut out the KT Wiz, the LG Twins manages to outscore the Lotte Giants, and the Hanwha Eagles managed to secure a rare win at the expense of the Doosan Bears. Wait, that’s actually 2 wins over the Bears – that’s a double header victory!

Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!

SK Wyverns: 4, Kia Tigers: 3

Lotte Giants: 7, LG Twins: 6

Hanwha Eagles: 3, Doosan Bears: 2 (both games)

NC Dinos: 9, Kiwoom Heroes: 5

Samsung Lions: 12, KT Wiz: 0



Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Liam Casey and Matt Wallach.


Best Hitters


Choi Jeong (3B, SK Wyverns) 2-4, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R. Despite a so far underwhelming 2020, Choi showed up on Sunday, smacking two solo homers including the game winner in the bottom of the 9th. The 33 year old has enjoyed more than a decade of consecutive productive seasons, and this performance reminded us just how lethal he can be. 

Lee Sung-gyu (1B, Samsung Lions) 2-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. The Lions handed the KT Wiz a beatdown on Sunday, thanks in part to the actions of Lee Sung-gyu. His 2 run shot in the 5th inning gave the Lions a 7-0 lead, more than enough to dispatch the scoreless Wiz. He even tacked on a double in the 7th for good measure. 

Lee Hak-ju (SS, Samsung Lions) 4-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. While his triple slash may not be too pretty, Lee has seemed to have a knack for big days over in the KBO. He was clearly locked in on Sunday, hitting a 3rd inning, 3-run homer in his 2nd at bat and collecting 4 total hits on the day. The Lions sputtered out of the gate this year but are now only 2 games under .500.

Lee Dae-ho (1B, Lotte Giants) 2-5, HR, 3 RBI, R. The former Mariner got busy quick in this one, cranking his 5th homer of the year in the 1st inning. While it wasn’t enough for the Giants to overcome the Twins’ scoring parade, Lee’s performance was a testament to the elite batting he has posted since returning to Korean ball. 

Lee Chun-woong (CF, LG Twins) 2-3, 3 RBI, BB. The Twins leadoff man was excellent on Sunday, reaching base 3 times and driving in 3 runs to help lead the team to their 10-6 victory. The Twins have been fiercely competing to keep up with the dominant NC Dinos for first place, and Lee’s outstanding on base skills are going to keep them in that fight. 

Yoo Kang-nam (C, LG Twins) 2-4, 4 RBI, 2 R.  A 2 run single in the 6th inning was enough to put the Giants to bed on Sunday. The Twins catcher came through in the clutch out of the 8 hole, driving in 4 runs on the day. The Twins are now 6-4 in their last 10 as they make a serious push to knock off the Dinos for 1st place. 

Choi Jae-hoon (C, Hanwha Eagles) 2-2, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB. The Eagles have had a disastrous 2020 season so far, but they managed to eke out a victory on Sunday against the Doosan Bears. Choi Jae-hoon cranked a solo homer in the 3rd inning which would eventually make all the difference in the 3-2 victory for the Eagles. 

Aaron Altherr (CF, NC Dinos) 3-4, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R. Once again, Altherr manages to make my write up. The former Phillie, Giant, and Met continues to rake in his debut KBO season – hitting his 9th homer during yet another Dinos’ victory. When your 8 hitter is OPS’ing over .900, you must be doing something right.


Best Pitchers


Yang Hyun-jong (Kia Tigers): 7 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 10 K, 2 BB. While he ultimately gave up three runs in this start and his team lost, the performance by Yang was the best of the night. His ten strikeouts were the most by any starting pitcher on Sunday and was another good outing for the 32-year-old KBO veteran. Unfortunately, the Tigers’ bats were shut down for the first two-thirds of this game (more on that pitcher in a little bit), but Yang’s performance should not be overlooked. He only allowed two hits, although one of them was a sixth-inning home run that pushed the SK Wyverns lead to three. Overall, Yang hasn’t been able to replicate his strong 2019 season, in which he had a 2.29 ERA, but it hasn’t been a bad season for the left-hander, and this was his best result in terms of strikeouts. Removing one bad start against the KT Wiz on May 28th where he allowed six runs would make his season look a little bit different, but it’s hard to complain about his season to this point, although the team would surely love to have the 2019 version.

Lee Geon-wook (SK Wyverns): 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 K, 2 BB. On the other end of the pitching matchup was the 25-year-old Lee, and despite not blowing hitters away with just two strikeouts, the righty was able to manage and hold the Tigers’ offense in check for five innings. Unfortunately, the SK bullpen allowed three runs after Lee’s departure, and let the Tigers back into it. It took a walk-off home run for SK to win, but they ultimately got the win and avoided the sweep. This was just the fourth start of the season for Lee after making his first two appearances of the season out of the bullpen, and despite not having high strikeout numbers, he’s given up one run or fewer in three of those four starts, as he’s been able to limit hits, with just eight allowed in those three good starts. While the team has hesitated to really stretch him out, evidenced by his max amount of pitches being just 88, and him not going more than six innings, they have to be extremely happy with his results to this point. Prior to 2020, Lee had just two innings of work in the KBO, the last of those innings being back in 2017, and not pitching professionally since then. Considering the circumstances, they’ll gladly take those results.

Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions): 6 IP, 0 ER, 8 H, 5 K, 1 BB. The biggest blow out of the day came courtesy of the Samsung Lions 12-0 victory over the KT Wiz, and Won was able to provide six stress-free, shutout innings as the Lions had a five-run lead after three innings, and despite eight hits against him, the Wiz were never able to bring a run home. For the 20-year-old Won, he’s quickly emerging as the ace of the Lions staff, with the best ERA among all Lions starters, now dropping to a 2.30 mark after this start. This isn’t his first shutout either, as he the high point of his season thus far came with eight shutout innings against the Lotte Giants on May 27th, and then following that up with seven more shutout innings against the LG Twins strong offense in his next start. Overall, it’s just two earned runs in Won’s last four starts, as after a slow start, the Lions have been much better recently, and are right in the thick of it as they are just three games back of the fourth-place Kiwoom Heroes. They’ll be hoping for more performances like this from Won in the future, as they look to continue their climb up the league standings.

Warwick Saupold (Hanwha Eagles): 6 IP, 2 R, 0 ER, 8 H, 4 K, 0 BB. Things haven’t gone particularly well for the Eagles this season, but hey, they are now on a two-game winning streak after their record-tying 18-game losing streak, and taking two out of three against the defending champion Doosan Bears. On the mound for the Eagles in this one was former Major Leaguer Warwick Saupold, coming off his worst start of the season on June 9th against the Lotte Giants, in which he allowed 7 runs, this was definitely a nice bounce-back start for him. Not super flashy, with just four strikeouts, eight hits, and two unearned runs, it’s the solid start that the Eagles have been missing at most times this season, as they are league’s worst pitching staff in terms of ERA and runs against per game. Overall, Saupold’s ERA drops down to 3.63, which isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it is by far the best among Eagle starters, and he should be able to provide quality innings each time out, which is still important and valuable.


Tuesday’s Key Matchup


Drew Rucinski (NC Dinos) vs. Aaron Brooks (Kia Tigers): Monday is the common off day in the KBO, so without games tomorrow, we’ll look ahead to Tuesday instead. To get things started this week should be a matchup between two former Major Leaguers, and two that have had a good amount of success thus far in the season. For the Dinos, Rucinski has been a workhorse, usually giving the team at least six innings, and 100 pitches, and being very dependable with a 2.23 ERA and 1.13 WHIP through his first seven starts of the year. In his last start, he took the loss but still pitched well, giving up just two runs in six innings against the Bears. Taking the bump on the other side of this matchup, Brooks has been pretty much everything the Tigers could have asked for in his first season in the KBO, with a 2.76 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, also through seven starts. In his last start, he pitched a rain-shortened five innings of shutout ball, in which he was looking absolutely dominant. He’ll look to pick up where he left off against a tough Dino offense, in what should be a good matchup to start the week.

— Matt Wallach

Alex Fast

An FSWA award winner for Research Article of the Year, Alex is the co-host of On The Corner and host of the weekend edition of First Pitch. He received his masters in interactive telecommunications from NYU's ITP. All opinions are Alex's and Alex's alone. A die-hard Orioles fan, Alex is well versed in futility and broken pitching prospects.

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