SSG Landers’ replacement foreign pitcher Roenis Elias (35), who recorded his first win in his KBO debut, left both hopes and challenges in his first start.
Elias started a home game against the LG Twins at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on the 24th, giving up three runs on five hits (one home run) in five innings as the team won 5-3.
SSG lost ace Ennie Romero, who was expected to be their ace this season, without pitching a single game due to a shoulder injury. “We can’t wait any longer,” said SSG coach Kim Won-hyung. Even if the rotation was running smoothly thanks to the performance of the domestic starters, a strong foreign pitcher was needed.메이저놀이터
SSG’s long-awaited signing was Elias. The veteran pitcher has a 22-24 record with 14 saves and a 3.96 ERA in 133 games in the American Major Leagues. He also represented Cuba in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). SSG described him as “a complete left-hander who has all the attributes of a starting pitcher, including good command of his pitches, fastball, changeup, and game management.”
Against LG, which leads the team in batting average, Elias reached a maximum speed of 150 kilometres per hour. He threw more than half of his pitches fastballs (49 out of 91), with a mix of changeups (27) and curves (15). With runners on first and third in the top of the fifth inning with a 5-3 lead, he used his decisive changeup to drive in Austin Dean.
His command left something to be desired. He allowed four walks in five innings. He threw 58.2 per cent strikes (41.8 per cent balls).
Walks were the key to the runs. In the second inning, he walked Kim Min-sung and then gave up a two-run homer to Lee Jae-won. In the fourth inning, the Koreans walked Oh Ji-hwan with one out and then gave up back-to-back singles to Moon Bo-kyung and Kim Min-sung. In the process, the first baseman was lucky to be thrown out running to third base.
With a 54.5 per cent ratio of first-pitch strikes, the team needs to improve its aggressive pitching. In the second inning, Kim Min-sung and Lee Jae-won both struggled with their fastballs, which eventually led to runs.
On the 25th, Kim Won-hyung said, “Elias’ changeup strike rate is dropping. I advised him to throw a changeup with the same pitching form as his four-seam fastball.” “He has power in his fastball. If he can get more velocity on his slider, he’ll have an easier time against lefties.” “It was my first day, so I was a little nervous, and I still need to adjust to the strike zone,” he said, adding, “We’ll see in about three more games.”
Elias added: “Everyone needs a period of adjustment in their first league. It’s hard to get a good result in your first game in a place like Korea where the level of baseball is so high, so I’m glad we got the win today.”
One of the keys to a foreign pitcher’s success is adapting to Korean culture and the KBO. Elias, who is from Cuba, watched the game from the dugout and cheered on his teammates with a smile on his face after he finished his outing.
He was joined at the stadium by his wife, son, and daughter. His family will remain in South Korea for the entire season. “They all came to the game and supported us, so I wanted to show them a victory,” Elias said.
He also has a supportive teammate. He plays with fellow Cuban Guillermo Heredia, who was also a first-time Korean player and played with the Seattle Mariners.