The first virtue of a starting pitcher is innings pitched. They need to pitch as many innings as possible to give their team a chance to win, and to give their bullpen pitchers a chance to rest. While there has been a recent trend in the major leagues to reduce the innings pitched by starters and expand the role of bullpen pitchers, it’s hard to underestimate the value of innings. This is especially true in the KBO, where quality relievers are relatively scarce.안전놀이터
Doosan’s Raul Alcantara pitched his 20th quality start of the season (QS-6 innings, 3 earned runs or less) on Tuesday, tossing 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball for Jamsil Samsung Electronics in an 8-2 win. He is the first KBO pitcher to reach the 20-QS plateau this season. In 26 starts, he has allowed three earned runs or less in all but six games. Alcantara’s 20-win season in 2020, when he recorded 27 QS in 31 starts, is a reminder of his innings-eating ways.
Recently, Alcantara’s ability to digest innings has been particularly remarkable. He pitched seven innings in five consecutive games, from Samsung Electronics on March 9 to Lotte on March 4. Only against Lotte did he give up four earned runs, but in the rest of the games he gave up two earned runs or fewer and had a Quality Start Plus (QS+ – 7 innings, 3 earned runs or less).
While Alcantara pitched seven innings in five straight games, Doosan went just 1-4. Either the bats went silent or the bullpen struggled. It’s disappointing, but we can’t ignore Alcantara’s role.
The game against Lotte on April 4 is a case in point. It was the first Monday game of the season, and the team was facing seven more games with no rest, including a doubleheader. The team was worried about running out of gas.
Alcantara gave up four runs in the first inning, but managed to stay on the mound until the seventh inning without giving up any more runs, maximizing the bullpen. Doosan would go on to go 4-2 in a grueling schedule that featured six games, including a doubleheader, over a five-day span from June 6-10, with the exception of the fifth game, which was canceled due to rain. Much of the credit goes to Alcantara, who remained responsible until the very end after giving up a big first-inning run in the first game of the series.
With 117 games played as of the 11th, Doosan is in sixth place, three games behind fifth-place SSG, keeping the ‘fall baseball’ flame alive. With 27 games remaining, Alcantara’s role will be crucial. At the end of the month, even domestic ace Kwak-Bin Kwak will be out of the lineup due to his call-up to the Hangzhou Asian Games. Manager Lee Seung-yeop is also considering how to utilize Alcantara.