After the All-Star break, the KBO will begin the second half of the season on April 21. The first half of the season was hotly contested, but the second half is expected to be even more intense. The Lotte Giants are making a move to replace a foreign pitcher, but when and who will it be?
Lotte pulled out the first “knife” on April 11. They claimed Zack Rex, who has been playing with chronic quadriceps tendon pain, a knee injury, off waivers from the KBO and acquired Nico Goodrum, who can play both infield and outfield defense, as their new foreign-born bat for $400,000 a year.
Rex came to Lotte last year as a foreign-born replacement for DJ Peters and established himself as a “potato” in 56 games, hitting .330 with eight home runs, 34 RBIs, 32 runs scored, and a .905 OPS. After the season, Lotte offered Rex a contract totaling $1.3 million (approximately KRW 1.6 billion) to keep him in the organization.
But Rex wasn’t the same player he was last year. Rex struggled in the outfield defense and on the basepaths, batting .246 with 50 hits, 4 home runs, 30 RBIs, 20 runs scored, and a .683 OPS in 55 games, all due to knee pain. Rex was sent down to the second team at one point during the season to receive treatment for the knee injury, but it was unlikely to improve over the course of the season, and Lotte was the first to part ways with him.메이저놀이터
After a strong start to the season, Lotte reached a maximum win-loss margin of +11 games by early June, but a series of injuries to their “mainstays” sent them into a steep downward spiral. Lotte managed to hold on to their 5% winning percentage throughout the downward spiral, but in their final game before the All-Star break, they were swept by the NC Dinos in a heartbreaking loss.
Even with the return of Jeong-hoon and Ahn Kwon-soo from injury and the return of Goodrum to the lineup for the second half of the season, Lotte’s woes are far from over. One reason for this is the continued struggles of their foreign pitchers.
Dan Streeley and Charlie Barnes have already been ‘proven’ in the KBO. However, their performances in the first half of the season have been disappointing. Both Streeley and Barnes broke out of their poor starts in April, failing to record a single quality start (6 innings or less). They both seemed to improve in May, but they’re still in a “fizzle” mode.
In particular, Straily, who is in his fourth season in the KBO, hasn’t added a win since June 2 against the KIA Tigers, and hasn’t pitched more than six innings in a start since that game. His inconsistent command, even when his velocity is down due to aging, has contributed to his struggles.
Barnes is slightly better than Straily. Barnes has been up and down, but he has more quality starts (7) than Straily (3 QS). Notably, four of those seven starts have been QS+ (7 innings, 3 earned runs or less). The biggest problem with Barnes is his ups and downs.
On his good days, Barnes is performing like he did last year when he was in contention for the monthly MVP title, but on his bad days, he’s fallen off a cliff. He’s had a lot of early exits lately, including 1⅓, 2⅓, and 3⅓ innings. If you look at consistency aside from impact, Streeley is the better pitcher than Barnes, with five innings of 1-2 runs.
Lotte has been the ‘big guns’ in the Stovrig before this season. The team signed “Glasses Ace” Park Se-woong to a multi-year non-free agent contract totaling 9 billion won, and in the free agent market, Lotte declared “Win Now” by signing Yoo Kang-nam to a total of 8 billion won, Noh Jin-hyuk to 5 billion won, and Han Hyun-hee to 4 billion won. However, their current performance is clearly a far cry from what Lotte envisioned before the season began.
Having parted ways with Rex before the end of the first half, Lotte is now scrambling for a foreign pitcher to replace him. The team is looking to use a foreign pitcher in the second half of the season to help them climb up the standings and make a run at the postseason. This is because they now need to make a run in the second half and go all out.
While both Streeley and Barnes are going through extreme slumps, there’s no denying that Streeley is the more likely candidate to be replaced at this point. Their stats are similar, but Barnes has the edge in terms of left-handedness and skill. With the foreign market in a bad state, it’s not easy to find players who fit the bill, so we’ll see who Lotte brings in at some point to make a splash.
The second half of the season resumes on the 21st. The sooner the signings are made, the more time they have to help the team. The time for Lotte to make a decision is fast approaching.