The 2020 regular season in South Korean baseball will wrap up this week, with four of the five postseason-bound clubs expected to jostle for position until the very end.
The NC Dinos clinched the No. 1 seed in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason last Saturday. Four other teams -- the LG Twins, KT Wiz, Kiwoom Heroes and Doosan Bears -- have also secured playoff spots, but their final positions are still to be determined.
The Dinos will advance directly to the Korean Series. The No. 2 seed will get a bye to the second round, while the No. 3 seed will move on to the first round. The No. 4 and No. 5 clubs will meet in the Wild Card round.
The Twins enter the week in second place at 79-59-4 (wins-losses-ties). With two games to go, the Twins are half a game ahead of the Wiz (79-60-1), which have four games remaining.
To take the second spot, the Wiz must finish with two more wins than the Twins. If the Twins split their remaining two games, then the Wiz have to go at least 3-1. But if the Twins win both of their final two games, the Wiz must take all four of their remaining games.
The Twins play one game each against the two worst clubs: the last-place Hanwha Eagles on Wednesday and the ninth-ranked SK Wyverns on Friday.
The Eagles will have an important say in the race for second place, as they also play the Wiz twice this week, on Thursday and Friday.
The Heroes (80-62-1) have just one game left and are unlikely to move higher than their current No. 4 spot. The Bears (76-61-4) have fallen 2.5 games back of the Twins with three games to play.
Their best hope may be in catching the Heroes, which are 1.5 games ahead.
The regular season will end Saturday with a makeup game between the Dinos and the Kia Tigers, a match that has no bearing on the postseason picture. The postseason will begin Sunday with the Wild Card stage.
Individual players will continue to pursue milestones and records this week. The Bears' right-hander Raul Alcantara is one win away from reaching 20 for the season. His teammate, designated hitter Jose Miguel Fernandez, needs seven more hits in his next three games to set a new single-season hits record.
Mel Rojas Jr. of the Wiz will try to lock up a batting Triple Crown. He has sizable leads in home runs (46) and RBIs (132), and is nursing a slim lead over Son Ah-seop of the Lotte Giants at .353 to .352.
The last Triple Crown winner was the Giants' slugger Lee Dae-ho in 2010. (Yonhap)