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Well-rested closer available in 'any situation' for postseason club

All Headlines 16:56 October 20, 2017

By Yoo Jee-ho

CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- It's become a trend of sorts in Major League Baseball (MLB) for managers to summon their closers well before the usual ninth inning, tasking them with the stopper role for two or three innings.

And when the NC Dinos resume their Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason play at home later Friday, their well-rested closer will be asked to do much the same.

Manager Kim Kyung-moon said right-hander Lim Chang-min will be available to pitch "in any situation" during Game 3 of their second round series against the Doosan Bears at Masan Stadium in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

The best-of-five set is tied at one game apiece.

"Lim Chang-min has enough in his tank to face multiple batters," Kim told reporters. "So he's going to come out when we need him, no matter what the circumstance."

Lim didn't pitch in either of the first two games of the series, both of them high-scoring affairs. The Dinos won the first game 13-5, and then the Bears claimed the next game 17-7.

In this file photo taken Oct. 15, 2017, Lim Chang-min of the NC Dinos celebrates the team's 9-0 victory over the Lotte Giants in Game 5 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Sajik Stadium in Busan. (Yonhap)

Lim's last appearance came last Sunday, when he threw one shutout inning on 16 pitches in Game 5 of the first round series versus the Lotte Giants.

During the regular season, Lim had 29 saves with a 3.68 ERA, with 62 strikeouts in 66 innings. He picked up two saves in five regular season appearances against the Bears but had a 5.40 ERA.

And the Dinos are in desperate need of some steady relief pitching, after getting destroyed in Game 2. Five relievers were torched for eight runs in the bottom sixth, as the Dinos 6-4 lead turned into a 12-6 deficit.

The Dinos' bullpen has a 6.89 ERA this postseason, with 25 earned runs in 32 2/3 innings pitched with 19 strikes against 14 walks. The relievers have given up eight home runs.

Two games into the current series, the bullpen ERA for the Dinos is 12.19 after 10 1/3 innings of work.

The best case scenario for Kim, of course, would be to have starter Eric Hacker pitch deep into the game and save as much of his relief corps as he can.

Hacker was the MVP of the previous series, after holding the Giants to a run in 13 1/3 innings.

With the Bears' offense on fire -- they belted out four home runs in Game 2 -- Kim said it's going to be challenging for his pitching staff to keep them off the board.

"Hacker may give up some runs, but the key is to scatter those runs, not allowing them in a bunch," the manager said. "And our batters have to be aggressive and pounce on opportunities."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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