The LG Twins’ ambitious plans to win their second consecutive Korean Series title with a drama-filled Game 2 and Game 3 victory and tearful fans in 29 years have been thwarted by the arrival of a “monster.

The “LG Killer,” Ryu Hyun-jin, has returned to his hometown Hanwha Eagles on an eight-year, 17 billion won super-super contract, and he’s even bouncing back in time for the opening game. Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho revealed Ryu’s pitching schedule in an interview with reporters after his return on Thursday, and he was aiming for the opening game. He will pitch against Cheongnaek on the 7th, then take four days off before pitching in an exhibition game against the KIA Tigers in Daejeon on the 12th, followed by a final checkup against the Lotte Giants in Busan on the 17th. He will then take five days off before starting the opening game against LG at Jamsil Stadium on the 23rd.

Normally, a matchup between last year’s champions and the ninth-ranked team would be expected to have some sort of power differential. However, the presence of Ryu Hyun-jin actually gives Hanwha an advantage in the opening game.

It’s been a long time coming, but when Ryu was dominating the KBO, he was incredibly strong against LG.

In a seven-year span from 2006 to 2012, Ryu amassed 98 career wins, the most of which came against LG. In 35 appearances against LG, Ryu went 22-8 with a 2.36 ERA. On April 12, 2006, the first day of his career, Ryu made his debut at Jamsil Stadium, and he struck out 10 batters in 7 1/3 innings to earn his first win. His single-game record of 17 strikeouts also came against LG on May 11, 2010, in Cheongju. The left-handed pitcher was comfortable against LG, which has a lot of left-handed hitters.

After LG, Ryu won 17 games against Lotte, 15 against Kia, and 14 against Samsung.

Only Kim Hyun-soo, Heo Do-hwan, and Oh Ji-hwan are the only batters left who have faced LG before. The likes of Hong Chang-ki and Moon Bok-kyung, who grew up to become LG’s mainstays, have only watched Ryu’s exploits on TV. Coincidentally, LG still has a lot of left-handed hitters. In the nine-man starting lineup, only Austin Dean and Park Dong-won are right-handed, while the other seven are left-handed.

While LG is a left-handed batting lineup, it hasn’t been weak against left-handed pitching. Last year, LG was first in the league with a team batting average of 2.779, but was third against left-handed 사설토토 pitching with a 2.779 average. Not a bad report card.

But he’s facing Ryu Hyun-jin, who is also a major league starter. It’s not easy for hitters to see a pitcher they don’t recognize and hit it right away. That’s why the opening game against Ryu is even more difficult.

LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop didn’t put much importance on the opening game against Ryu. When asked about the pressure of facing Ryu on the opening day, Yoon said, “It’s a high-profile, high-profile game,” but added, “We don’t prepare anything special just because he’s coming out. I think it’s just one of the games we have to play,” he said bluntly.

“If we lose the opening game, it doesn’t change our ranking, it’s just one of 144 games and we have to do our best to win,” Yeom said, adding, “This season, we have to play each game as best we can without pushing ourselves like last year. Then there will be many upsets,” he said.

There will be a ticket war between LG fans who want to support last year’s champions LG and Hanwha fans who want to support a stronger Hanwha team with Ryu Hyun-jin back.


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