There is no such thing as changing positions again. We have to overcome it right now.”
Doosan Bears coach Lee Seung-yeop 스포츠토토 talked about new closer Jung Cheol-won ahead of the match against SSG Landers in Jamsil on the 27th. On the 15th of last month, coach Lee embarked on a major reorganization of the mound. Sidearm starting pitcher Won-Jun Choi, who struggled throughout the season, was sent to the bullpen and left-hander Seung-Yong Choi was selected as the starter. It was a desperate measure to add stability to the mound.
However, Cheol-Won Jeong has continued to struggle after winning his finishing title. In the five games he changed positions and pitched, he had only two saves, 4⅔ innings, and an earned run average of 9.64. The strong points that represent Jeong Cheol-won, such as fastball, control, and thick guts, are not seen at all recently. His WHIP (on base per inning) over this period reached 3.43. A WHIP of over 20,000 is a serious figure, but Jung Cheol-won is struggling beyond that. His batting average reached 0.478. It is also because of the small sample size, but it is difficult to deny that Jeong Cheol-won’s current situation is quite serious. In the match against SSG in Jamsil on the 26th, he broke down by committing a balk uncharacteristically.
In the meantime, Cheol-Won Jeong has put on a fastball at 150 km/h on the mound, and has boldly dropped a forkball even if there is a runner in scoring position and the ball count is unfavorable. Last year, he took 23 holds and won the Rookie of the Year title, and in the first half of this year, he recorded 5 wins, 2 saves, 11 holds, 40⅔ innings, and an average ERA of 3.76 in 39 games, and was in charge of one axis of Pilseungjo. When manager Lee promoted the reorganization of the mound, the reason why he entrusted Jeong Cheol-won with the most important finishing position was because he judged that he had both the ability and personality to overcome the pressure.
Regarding Jeong Cheol-won’s struggle, Lee said, “I think the position of finishing is difficult. Because there is no pitcher behind you. I think the pitchers feel comfortable when they think there is a next inning. I think it’s not good. Pitchers are generally not in good condition right now.”
Now, he said he would believe in the resurrection of Cheol-Won Jeong and wait for it. Coach Lee said, “There is no way to change positions again. We have to overcome the current position. The finishing pitcher has no backs. You must have a strong mind and a sense of responsibility as the last pitcher. I think I will have to meet Jeong Cheol-won once and punish him. I hoped to endure the weight of the seat with a stronger resolution than now.
Contrary to coach Lee’s wishes, Jeong Cheol-won pitched below expectations in the match against SSG in Jamsil on the 27th. He climbed the mound in the top of the 10th inning with a score of 5-5, with one out and second base, and went down the mound after only allowing 3 hits, 1 walk and 2 runs in ⅓ innings. He handled the first batter, Seong-Han Park, with a ground ball to the first baseman, and lasted until 2 out and 3 base.
Jung Cheol-won, who failed to prevent Kim Myung-shin’s runner from scoring, was more shaken. He was hit by the next batter, Ha Jae-hoon, and even committed a wild throw when Kim Seong-hyun was at bat with 2 out 1 and 2 base, changing the situation to 2nd and 3rd base. And Kim Seong-hyun hit the left with two RBIs and a timely hit. It was a wedge that completely set the mood for SSG as it went 5-8. Coach Lee still hoped that Jeong Cheol-won would finish the 10th inning himself, but he let out the 9th hitter Lee Heung-ryun on a walk, bringing 2 outs to 1st and 2nd base. In the end, manager Lee replaced the mound with Kim Yoo-seong, and Kim Yoo-seong was able to finish the eventful 10th inning by handling Kim Kang-min’s fly ball from center fielder.
As Doosan fell into two consecutive losses, the season record was only 54 wins, 53 losses and 1 draw, and it fell from 5th to 6th place. It is only 0.5 game difference with the KIA Tigers, who recently rose to 5th place with 4 consecutive wins, but the bullpen is desperately needed to continue fighting in the 5th round.
As coach Lee mentioned earlier, besides Jung Cheol-won, the pitchers who were active as a winning team from the opening, such as Kim Myung-shin, Park Chi-guk, and Hong Gun-hee, are all out of pitch. Recently, Choi Won-joon and Lee Young-ha have been stable, but they have not proven their stability in the bullpen enough to replace the finishing position.
If Jeong Cheol-won does not survive in a situation where it is difficult to change positions again, director Lee will have no choice but to be put in an increasingly difficult situation. Will Jeong Cheol-won be able to find a justification for coach Lee to continue entrusting the finish with his perseverance in the near future? Both Jung Cheol-won and director Lee need a breakthrough these days.