Lotte’s 2023 started with a bang with the word “momentum” and cooled off with the word “bomde”. Lotte seemed to be following their usual pattern.
With a record of 15 wins and 9 losses by May 3, Lotte climbed to the top of the league, and then cruised along in a “three-way tie” with LG and SSG for a while. The team remained in third place until June 13, raising expectations among fans. The free agent (FA) signings seemed to be relatively appropriate, and the lack of details that had been holding Lotte back seemed to have been addressed to some extent, with promising prospects such as Kim Min-seok and Yoon Dong-hee. It was a positive time for both the present and future.
However, after June, the team’s shortcomings became more pronounced, and the rankings slowly began to sag. A combination of bad luck with foreign pitchers, the eventual demise of Jack Rex, and injuries to key players all came together. In June and July, Lotte showed that they were not yet strong enough to handle the bad news wisely, as their 5 percent winning percentage collapsed and their momentum began to wane as they dropped to seventh place in the standings.
However, Lotte has been quietly simmering in August. It hasn’t been flashy, but it’s been steady, and it’s now back on track to get back to its 5% win rate. At one point, their win-loss margin was as low as -7, but it’s now back to -2. The gap to fifth-place Doosan is also down to one game. They are now in a position to start over.
In August, the team started to improve with a more balanced lineup. Lotte broke their losing streak with a win against Sajik SSG on August 6, and then went on an upswing that saw them win seven of their next nine games to start chasing the mid-table.
First of all, the foreign pitching staff, which has been a problem throughout the first half of the season, has been strong. Charlie Barnes’ steady pitching has given them some breathing room, and new acquisition Aaron Wilkerson is backing him up with good command. After struggling in the first half of the season with a 4.57 ERA in 16 games, Barnes has found his groove as of late, going 4-0 with a 1.15 ERA in his last five starts. He’s rattling off wins and saving the team from losing streaks.
Wilkerson, who was brought in to replace Dan Straily, has also pitched well in his first five games, going 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA. He doesn’t have a fastball, but his ability to aggressively attack the strike zone is impressive. His walks per inning allowed (WHIP) is just 1.01. 메이저놀이터
His bat is also strong. Information Geun-ho, who had been underwhelming at the plate, has been the lifeblood of the team’s offense with a 1.409 OPS since August 6. Anchored by veterans Jeon Jun-woo (1.385) and Ahn Chi-hong (1.143), Lee Jung-hoon (1.012) has added to the mix and Noh Jin-hyuk (.900) is back on track. With a good mix of long and mid-range hitting, the team is cruising, scoring 59 runs in nine games.