Foreign pitchers dominate list of KBO Opening Day starters

March 28, 2016
Dustin Nippert (NEWSis)

Dustin Nippert (NEWSis)

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL (Yonhap) — For the second straight season, foreign pitchers will dominate the list of the Opening Day starters in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in 2016.

The regular season is set to begin Friday with all 10 teams in action. And eight of the 10 managers attending the annual media day event in Seoul announced their starters for the first game of the season with six of those pitchers being foreigners.

The defending champion Doosan Bears will start American right-hander Dustin Nippert for their sixth straight Opening Day. They will take on the Samsung Lions in the rematch of last year’s Korean Series, and the Lions will counter with a Korean left-hander Cha Woo-chan at the new Daegu Samsung Lions Park in Daegu.

Nippert had an injury-riddled regular season in 2015 but was a work horse in the postseason, setting a KBO record with 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. He was 3-0 with a 0.56 ERA in 32 1/3 innings overall, as the Bears claimed their first title since 2001.

Cha led the KBO with 194 strikeouts in 173 innings, while going 13-7 with a 4.79 ERA.

In an all-American matchup, the Nexen Heroes will send Ryan Feierabend to the mound on Friday against Josh Lindblom of the Lotte Giants at the new Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. Both pitchers are entering their second KBO seasons and will be making their first Opening Day starts.

The NC Dinos will start American right-hander Eric Hacker at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, while their opponent, Kia Tigers, will go with homegrown left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong for the second straight season.

The SK Wyverns made former MVP Kim Kwang-hyun their Opening Day starter for the second time, as they host the expansion KT Wiz at Incheon SK Happy Dream Park. The Wiz will counter with Colombian right-hander Sugar Ray Marimon, who joined the KBO club in November.

The LG Twins will host the Hanwha Eagles at Seoul’s Jamsil Stadium, and both clubs chose not to announce their Opening Day Starters Monday.

The KBO teams can each have three foreign players, and up to two of them can be pitchers. The Wiz, for their first two KBO seasons, can have four foreign players, and one of them must be a position player.