Thursday Sep 28, 2023

Late-season baseball? Just ask two Sanchezes

There are two Sanchezes in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), which resumes the second half of its season on May 21 after the All-Star break.

The main characters are Hanwha’s Ricardo Sanchez (26) and KIA’s Mario Sanchez (29), who stepped onto Korean soil as replacement foreign players side by side. It is not an exaggeration to say that these two Sanchezes are important variables that will shake up the KBO in the second half of the season.

Hanwha’s Ricardo Sanchez made his KBO debut on May 11, replacing Butch Smith, who was released after pitching just one game due to injury. The young left-hander, born in 1997, quickly became the heart of the team, posting a 5-1 record with a 2.61 ERA in 10 starts. With Ricardo Sanchez anchoring the mound, the other starters, Felix Peña and Dong-ju Moon, stabilized after a rocky start to the season.

Hanwha, which had a double-digit winning percentage (.261) in the month of April, has been a completely different team since Choi Won-ho took over with a .523 winning percentage (23-21-3). The team’s eight-game winning streak, its longest in 18 years, has propelled them out of the cellar and into the top-five race, and Ricardo Sanchez is a big reason why. It’s no wonder Hanwha fans refer to him as the “Big Game Winner”.

KIA has an alternate foreign pitcher as well. His name is Mario Sanchez. Mario Sanchez has only pitched one game in the KBO, but it was a big one. On October 10, he pitched 6⅓ innings against the KT Wiz, allowing one run on five hits (one home run) with 10 strikeouts. He proved that it was no fluke that he led the Taiwanese baseball league in wins and ERA in the first half of the year.

KIA made a gambit in the first half of the game by pulling two foreign pitchers at once. Left-hander Thomas Pannoni (29), who was not re-signed after his strong performance last year, also pitched four innings of two-run ball against Samseong in his comeback game on Dec. 12. KIA’s six-game winning streak at the end of the regular season was partly due to the refreshing effect of the foreign players.

This year, professional baseball has seen an unusually high number of foreign player substitutions. In the first half alone, a whopping 10 foreign players packed up and left, with new players coming in to replace them. Hanwha, KIA, and Kiwoom each replaced two foreign pitchers, while SSG, Doosan, Lotte, and KT each replaced one. Hanwha, KIA, and Doosan, in particular, seemed to have a lot of fun with their new foreign pitchers, and other teams that were lukewarm on the subject are stepping up to the plate. Lotte is likely to be the first team to make a move, as they have a big need for foreign pitchers바카라사이트.

In the KBO, it is difficult for teams to trade key players during the season. This is one of the most effective ways to improve team chemistry and boost your offense.

This season, the deadline for foreign players is July 31. Of course, you can make substitutions after August, but you must be registered by July 31 to be eligible for the postseason. After that date, there’s not much point in making a substitution. It will be interesting to see which team makes the final push to qualify for fall baseball.


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