It was a valuable achievement in many ways. In particular, he avenged SSG, who was one step ahead in the competition for third place in the regular league, and shook off some of the regrets. Starting pitcher Shin Min-hyuk pitched 5.2 innings with four hits, one out, three strikeouts and no runs, and Kim Sung-wook, who played as a pinch hitter in the top of the eighth inning, took the lead in the team’s victory by shooting a two-run final over the left-center wall.
However, there was also bad news. It was the poor performance of closer Lee Yong-chan.
Lee Yong-chan, a native of Jangchung High School and started his professional career with the first nomination from the Doosan Bears in 2007, is a veteran right-hander with a heavy four-seam fastball. He has been wearing NC uniforms since the 2021 season, and until last year, he recorded a career-high 3.70 ERA with 57 wins, 56 losses, 128 saves and seven holds in 440 games (102 starts, 937.1 innings).
Lee Yong-chan’s performance continued this season. He slowed down with a 6.35 ERA in April, but rebounded with a 2.25 ERA in May. He then shook again with a 4.91 ERA in June, but stabilized with a 2.45 ERA in July and a 1.80 ERA in August. 파친코
But October, the end of the season, was the problem. He played in eight games, but lost one game, saved three, and had a 12.00 ERA (eight runs in six innings). The main reason was the faltering pitching balance.
Lee Yong-chan is also shaking in autumn baseball. First of all, he was put on first and third bases with two outs in the top of the eighth inning with NC leading 8-6 in the first wild card game against Doosan at Changwon NC Park on the 19th. Once he tied Yang Eui-ji with a center fielder fly in the inning to prevent a run, but it shook sharply in the top of the ninth inning when NC widened the gap to 14-6.
Lee Yong-chan, who led leadoff hitter Yang Seok-hwan to a fly to second base at the time, faced first and second bases with one out due to Kang Seung-ho’s walk and Kim In-tae’s hit to the right. Here, he caught Huh Kyung-min with a shortstop fly, but allowed pinch hitter Park Ji-hoon to hit his body and hit an RBI timely infield hit. Subsequently, Jung Soo-bin was hit by a two-run timely triple that exceeded the height of the right fielder. He led follow-up hitter Kim Jae-ho to a foul fly to the first baseman and did not lose any additional points.
Nevertheless, the head coach did not lose confidence in Lee Yong-chan. NC coach Kang In-kwon, who met ahead of the first round of the semi-playoff, said, “I thought the first thing to give trust was to me.” First of all, Lee Yong-chan finished our team,” he said, giving strength to his voice.
But Lee couldn’t smile on that day either. NC took the mound in the bottom of the ninth inning with a relatively relaxed lead of 4-1, but he gave up a right-handed hit to Han Yu-seom and was hit by a two-run shot over the left fence by Ha Jae-hoon. Fortunately, Kim Sung-hyun (second baseman fly), and pinch hitter Kim Kang-min (strikeout) were silenced one after another, not dedicating the reversal. Again, coach Kang said, “I lost a point with a home run today, but I finished the game well. I will trust him a little more and go,” he said, once again giving his shoulders strength.
NC is clearly on the rise at the moment, but the importance of a stable closer in short-term games such as fall baseball cannot be overemphasized. In order for NC to go higher, Lee Yong-chan’s rebound is essential.
Fortunately, Lee Yong-chan is one of the veterans who have gone through a series of hardships. If it is a temporary slump, they have the ability to fully overcome it based on their own experiences. Another positive factor is that there has yet to be a come-from-behind defeat, the worst result in autumn baseball. However, it is Lee Yong-chan’s turn to meet the expectations of the head coach with a more stable pitch.