‘5 straight losses → nearing the bottom of the table’ Samsung in crisis, ‘reserve’ Choi Chae-heung weighs heavily on shoulders

‘Reserve’ pitcher Choi Chae-heung (28) will take the mound with the privilege of snapping a losing streak.

Choi will take the mound against the KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on April 18.

After being discharged from the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce) on Dec. 12, Choi made his first start a day later on Dec. 13 against the LG Twins in Jamsil. He didn’t get the win, but he did manage to hold the LG batsmen, who led the team in batting average, scoreless for 5⅓ innings, marking a successful return to the game.

Choi’s second start after his discharge from the military was a 180-degree turnaround from his first. Whereas his first start came in the midst of a winning streak, this time he took the mound in the midst of a five-game losing streak.

Coincidentally, the losing streak started on the 13th, the same day that Choi Chae-heung returned. After dropping all three games of the midweek series against LG, Samsung also lost two straight against No. 8 KT, putting them in danger of a second straight sweep.

The form hasn’t been good either. Their last five games have all come from behind. What could have been a five-game winning streak has turned into five straight losses. Extreme pitching and hitting imbalances have been a problem. On days when the starting pitchers pitched well, the bats were silent, and when the bats came through, the bullpen collapsed. During the five-game losing streak, Samsung ranked last in team batting average (0.208) and eighth in team ERA (4.50).

Most of all, the defense has been a headache, with errors in the infield and outfield. Samsung has committed a whopping eight errors in its last five games alone. The team’s shaky defense led to crises in every game. Most of the mistakes resulted in runs, leading to five straight losses. It was also a major blow to the pride of coach Park Jin-man, who had emphasized defense since his appointment.

The team atmosphere also took a turn for the worst. Choi Seung-hwan threw seven pitches in a game against KT on Nov. 16, then threw the ball into the stands when he was told to change benches and publicly expressed his anger by slamming his glove in the dugout.

Seung-hwan’s behavior caused a stir because he rarely shows emotion on the field, earning him the nickname “stone cold”. As a result, the team’s mood sank further as Samsung gave up a run after ejecting Oh and lost the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. 메이저놀이터

The five-game losing streak dropped Samsung to ninth place in the standings. Only half a game separates them from the last-place Hanwha Eagles. The team now has to worry about falling to the bottom of the standings, let alone making the jump to the mid-table.

With an up-and-down batting lineup, a shaky bullpen, and a disjointed defense, the pressure is on Choi Chae-heung. He’ll need to get as many innings as he can while minimizing runs to have any chance of winning. Of course, it’s a mission impossible to accomplish at this point in the season.

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