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Baseball club seeking more from homegrown hurlers

All Headlines 11:13 September 17, 2018

SEOUL, Sept. 17 (Yonhap) -- The Hanwha Eagles are thriving in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) this year in part because of their starting pitching, and in part despite their starting pitching.

The Eagles, in third place at 68-58 and well positioned to make their first postseason since 2007, have gone through three foreign pitchers so far in 2018. And they've combined for 19 victories. Keyvius Sampson is 13-8 and David Hale, who replaced struggling Jason Wheeler in July, has gone 3-1. Wheeler was 3-9 when he was released.

The three have a combined ERA of 4.54.

In this file photo from Aug. 7, 2018, Keyvius Sampson of the Hanwha Eagles throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in the bottom of the first inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. (Yonhap)

In contrast the Eagles' homegrown starters have gone a combined 15-24 with a 5.37 ERA, and they've had just one win since the All-Star break in July. It came on July 20, when right-hander Kim Min-woo defeated the Samsung Lions after 6 1/3 shutout innings.

The Eagles have been heavily reliant on their bullpen all season. They boast the lowest bullpen ERA in the league at 4.13, but their rotation's ERA is only sixth best in the league at 5.29.

The SK Wyverns, who are 2.5 games up on the Eagles in second place, have gotten a 19-13 record and a 4.39 ERA from their foreign duo, Merrill Kelly and Angel Sanchez. The difference has been in the production of their South Korean starters, who have gone 31-23 with a 4.09 ERA.

Hanwha manager Han Yong-duk has been scrambling to get his relievers in early and often when South Korean starters are on the mound. The Eagles are the only team with four relievers ranked inside the top 15 in pitching appearances this year, led by 58 games apiece from Park Sang-won and Son Eun-beom.

Some of Han's predecessors on the Eagles' bench were criticized for their overuse of the bullpen. In 2018, Han has had to follow suit out of necessity.

In this file photo provided by the Hanwha Eagles on May 17, 2018, the Eagles' pitcher Kim Min-woo throws a pitch against the KT Wiz during a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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