From last place to fifth, KT’s hot June/July Is a ‘Yanggang upset’ possible?

KT Wiz head coach Lee Kang-cheol.

The KT Wiz, who were in last place at the start of June, are now sitting in fifth place and looking up. The team is poised to knock off the seemingly unstoppable LG Twins-SSG Landers duopoly.

KT is currently in fifth place in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League with a season record of 44 wins, 2 losses, and 43 ties.

After sweeping a three-game series against the fourth-place NC Dinos last weekend, they are only behind the fourth-place NC in win percentage and just one game behind the third-place Doosan Bears.

Surprisingly, KT was in last place until the start of June. KT had a record of 16 wins, 2 draws, and 29 losses through May. They had a winning percentage of 0.356 and a win-loss margin of -13.

However, in June, they turned things around with a 15-8 (0.652) win-loss record and improved their winning percentage to 13-6 (0.684) in July. This is a lower winning percentage than KIA and Doosan (both 11-5-0.688), but more wins.

The combined record for June and July is 28-14 (0.667). With the exception of KT, no team has a winning percentage above 6% in this period. They have exactly twice as many wins as losses.

KT didn’t set the league on fire with a long winning streak like Lotte in May, Hanwha in June, and Doosan in July. However, the team quickly picked up the pieces without a long losing streak, and more importantly, they quietly rose to the occasion by consistently turning their three-game series into two or more wins.

Between June and July, KT had one five-game winning streak, four four-game winning streaks, and two three-game winning streaks. On the other hand, there was only one four-game losing streak and two three-game losing streaks. It took just two months to turn a -13 win-loss margin into a +1.

KT Go Young-pyo.

KT followed a similar pattern last year, struggling through May before rebounding in June and eventually making the postseason in fourth place.

Given that there’s still a lot of season left to go, KT should be able to climb to third or fourth place, or even higher.

While top-ranked LG has been bolstered by the addition of Choi Won-tae, second-ranked SSG has not. The team has struggled since the end of the first half of the season, as their starting lineup has struggled. They went 6-8 in July, with a winning percentage of less than 5% and ranked seventh overall.

Coincidentally, SSG is KT’s next opponent after they closed the gap by sweeping NC last weekend. At the moment, the seven-game gap seems quite far away, but a strong three-game series could quickly close the gap.

In the head-to-head this season, KT has a slight edge over SSG with 5 wins and 4 losses. Even last season, when SSG won wire-to-wire, KT was the only team with a perfect record against them (8-8).

Leading the charge against the ‘two-headed monster’ is KT ace Ko Young-pyo. Ko has been in his “ace-like” form this season, going 8-5 with a 2.68 ERA in 18 games.

He has also pitched well against SSG this season, 고스톱 going 2-0 with a 3.21 ERA in two appearances.

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