Duo of Foreign Aces Lead Doosan to First in KBO

The record for wins in a season in the KBO is held by Dustin Nippert who was pitching for the Doosan Bears in 2016 and Danny Rios who first set the record in 2007 while also pitching for the Bears. Dustin finished 2016 with 22 wins and 3 losses with a 2.95 ERA. The following year Dustin won 14 but his ERA rose to 4.06. The Bears hesitated in resigning him and the pitcher who won 94 games for them in six years jumped to the KT Wiz.

That opened a spot in the starting rotation for Doosan. It also created a lot of unhappiness with their fans. Not just because Dustin left the team. Foreign pitchers often depart the KBO after pitching well, but they usually leave for Japan or return to the United States for another shot at the major leagues. To leave for another team in the KBO. That was insulting. A sign of incompetence by the franchise.

The Bears search went to Iowa where their interest settled on a pitcher who had one major league appearance with the Chicago Cubs. Seth Frankoff was a 27th round pick of the Oakland Athletics in 2010 and considered a journeyman in his eight year minor league career. At no time did he win in double digits. For 2017 Frankoff was 2-8 with a 4.40 ERA with the AAA Iowa Cubs. The Cubs thought enough of him to call him up for his only major league appearance where he gave up two runs in two innings of work for a 9.00 ERA. Not the kind of numbers that get a lot of teams excited but enough for the Bears to pay him a $150,000 bonus and a salary of $700,000. That was the kind of money Frankoff was not going to see in 2018 if he stayed in the United States. Bears fans were not impressed.

Korea appears to appeal to Seth. In 17 starts he is 13-0 with a 2.70 ERA, winning his last seven starts while allowing just seven runs in his last 41 innings. In the offensive minded KBO those kind of numbers are rare. At his current pace Seth would break the KBO record of 22 wins shared by Dustin Nippert and Danny Rios. In the minor leagues it took him three years to reach 13 wins. Now for Doosan fans Dustin Nippert is just a fading memory.

The Bears also signed Josh Lindblom, who left the Lotte Giants after the 2016 season to pitch again in the United States. His return got him four more appearances in the major leagues with the Pirates, but after little success (7.84 ERA) it also got him his release. He resigned with the Lotte Giants to finish out the 2017 season in Korea but then signed with the Bears to begin the 2018 season.

Josh is now second in the KBO in wins with 11. His ERA is also an impeccable 2.77, which is third in the KBO. At 31 years of age Josh seems to have settled in Korea. As a second round pick of the Dodgers in 2008 a lot more was expected from him. He played five years in the major leagues, winning just five games, experiencing the roller coaster ride many pitchers face bouncing back and forth between the major leagues and the minors. Combine his minor league wins (22) with his major league victories and it falls 12 wins short of his KBO wins (39).

The Doosan Bears hope Seth and Josh continue their domination of the KBO. They are about as good a 1-2 combination of aces the KBO has seen. With an eight game lead over the Hanwha Eagles they sit comfortably in first. The defending champion Kia Tigers, who beat them in a seven game championship match last year are in sixth place, one spot away from qualifying for the playoffs. The first place team gets a bye while the four teams behind them battle to get to the championship match. That is a position the Bears prefer to be in, especially with two rested aces to throw in a seven game series.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.