Aaron Wilkerson (34), an alternative foreign pitcher who sent out Dan Straily, the “furbo ace” whom the Lotte Giants had grown attached to for autumn baseball this season, made his debut in the KBO (Korea Professional Baseball) league, breaking his team’s three consecutive losses.
Wilkerson took the mound as a starting pitcher for an away game against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on the 26th. Doosan, who had the most consecutive wins (11 consecutive wins) in the team’s foundation, was the first opponent on the Korean stage, but Wilkerson won his debut with his own pitch.
On this day, Wilkerson threw a total of 76 pitches, mixing various pitches such as fastballs (33), sliders (17), changeups, curves (more than 11), and cutters (4). The highest fastball speed is 149km. He blocked five innings with six hits, two walks, three strikeouts and two runs, and handed over the mound to Koo Seung-min in the sixth inning with his team leading 4-2. And in the sixth and seventh innings, the batters’ scoring support and the bullpen, which ran from Koo Seung-min to Choi Joon-yong, Kim Jin-wook and Han Hyun-hee, prevented Doosan’s attack without losing a point, and Lotte won 7-2, chasing fifth-ranked kt wiz by 0.5 games.
Lotte’s atmosphere was not good until the match. As the mound collapsed in the last six games, it was sluggish with 1 win and 5 losses, and the 50% winning rate was broken and it was also pushed out of the semifinals. It was an uneasy trend that seemed to sink into the lower ranks as usual.
Wilkerson saved Lotte from this crisis. It effectively blocked Doosan’s explosive batting lineup, which has won 11 consecutive games. He allowed to get on base every inning, but he minimized runs with his excellent crisis management skills. In particular, the command with catcher Yoo Kang-nam, who worked together for the first time, was smooth.
Wilkerson said, “Yoo Kang-nam gave a really good lead. His framing skills were also very good, he said. “It was a perfect harmony from the first game.” He also said, “I was able to pitch more stably because I scored a lot of points first in the batting line,” adding, “Lotte is a team that is ready to fight.” “Every game in the future is very important, and we are confident that we can play autumn baseball because we are a team with solid defense,” he stressed.
Lotte manager Larry Sutton applauded, saying, “Wilkerson played an impressive role based on his excellent control in the first game.”
Attention is focusing on whether Wilkerson’s baseball career, which started with an independent league and a frozen warehouse part-time job after graduating from college in the U.S., will bloom splendidly in the KBO League, which arrived in his mid-30s through the U.S. Major League, Taiwan and Japanese professional baseball.