After an up-and-down regular season marred by shoulder issues, Doosan Bears' right-hander Michael Bowden said Tuesday he's confident of a bounceback in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason.
The Bears, two-time defending champions, are scheduled to take on the NC Dinos in the best-of-five second round series starting Tuesday at home, Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.
Bowden is slated to start Friday's Game 3, which could potentially be a series-clinching contest or even an elimination game for the Bears.
Relying on Bowden to secure a ticket to the Korean Series or avoid postseason elimination could be a risky proposition for the Bears, though. The 31-year-old, after going 18-7 with a no-hitter in his first KBO season last year, was limited to only 17 starts this year, going 3-5 with a 4.64 ERA.
In this file photo taken Sept. 20, 2017, Michael Bowden of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the NC Dinos in the clubs` Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province. (Yonhap)
He missed time at the start of the season with shoulder issues then made two starts in April before going down again. Bowden didn't return until July.
Bowden had a memorable start in Game 3 of last year's Korean Series -- also against the Dinos. He tossed 136 pitches across 7 2/3 scoreless innings, as the Bears ended up sweeping their opponents.
Can he duplicate that in the 2017 postseason?
"My personal expectation is to go out there and pitch the best I can and put our team in a position to win," Bowden told Yonhap News Agency outside his club house Tuesday. "We have the club to win again. I am confident in all these guys. If we just come out and play our game, I think we're going to play NC very well and have a chance to move on."
Bowden made one regular season against the Dinos this year and held them to two earned runs in six innings in a no-decision Sept. 20. It came during the late-season stretch when Bowden held opponents to three or fewer earned runs in his final six starts of the season.
"They have a pretty good lineup and have some guys that can hurt you," he said. "But if you make your pitches and execute your pitches, I think you'll have a lot of success against them."
As for his physical condition, Bowden said, "It's been a struggle for me all season. I'm just trying to do the best with how I feel."
The Bears had the bye to the Korean Series a year ago after finishing first in the regular season. This year, they finished second to the Kia Tigers in the regular season and have to knock off the Dinos to get to the championship final.
That means they have a little less rest and a maximum five extra games compared to last year. But Bowden said his mindset isn't all that different.
"Last year, I had a little anxiety because ... (of) three weeks off and trying to play in a championship game -- that's really tough to do," he said. "This year, we get to have a few more games earlier. Hopefully, that'll just prep us and get us ready to go play Kia." (Yonhap)