SEOUL-- With two of his team's top starters from the regular season out with injuries, Doosan Bears' manager Kim Tae-hyoung will lean on a young right-hander to close out a postseason series Friday.
The Bears are a win away from capturing the best-of-three first round in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason against the LG Twins, following their 5-1 victory Thursday.
Kim will send the 22-year-old Gwak Been to the mound for Friday's game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul for only his second career postseason start.
Gwak acquitted himself well in his postseason debut on Monday against the Kiwoom Heroes, giving up a run on two hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.
The Bears are without injured starters Ariel Miranda and Walker Lockett. Rather than forcing Gwak to start on three days' rest in the absence of other viable starting options, Kim could have gone with a bullpen day and decided to ride his relievers to piece together 27 outs or more.
But in his pregame interview Friday, Kim said he wanted a proper starter at the beginning of the game.
"In a short series like this, it's hard to get the momentum back if you lose it in the first couple of innings," Kim said. "And relievers who are forced to start can struggle in those early innings. We just need Gwak Been to hold the fort for the first few innings."
The manager then added, "Gwak Been will be the most important player for us tonight."
Gwak went 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in three regular season games against the Twins this year. He walked 11 and hit six batters in only 12 1/3 innings.
And to best get to Gwak early, LG manager Ryu Ji-hyun juggled his lineup.
Catcher Yoo Kang-nam moved up from the No. 7 to No. 5 spot. He went 2-for-5 with a home run against Gwak during the regular season.
"We looked into some data, and Kang-nam had the best numbers against Gwak Been on our team," Ryu said in his pregame presser. "We're confident he can rise to the occasion in such a pressure-packed game."
The Twins managed just one run on nine hits in Thursday's loss. They had a man on base in all but two innings. The No. 5 hitter in that game, Kim Min-sung, came up with the bases loaded in the seventh but lined out softly to first base. He batted 0-for-4.
"We left so many runners on base, but the problem isn't about any particular player," Ryu said. "We have to do this as a team. Although we didn't get the result we wanted last night, I believe the guys can pull it off tonight."
Source: Yonhap News Agency