The Lotte Giants’ new foreign pitcher, Aaron Wilkerson, 34, has had a rough start to his KBO debut. The team has lost three straight games, slipping to sixth place in three months, and their opponent is a powerhouse on an 11-game winning streak.
Wilkerson will make his first appearance in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Doosan Bears on Sept. 26 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul.
Lotte, which is aiming to play “fall baseball” for the first time in six years, used up its two foreign player replacement cards this month. It released Jack Rex and Dan Streeley, who did not contribute much to the offense, and signed Nico Goodrum and Wilkerson for $400,000 and $350,000, respectively.
Goodrum made his debut against the Sajik Kiwoom Heroes on April 21, batting .250 with two RBIs and two runs scored in four games. Against Doosan on the 25th, he showed signs of settling in as he pounded out three hits, including his first long ball.
This time, it’s Wilkerson’s turn to make the first move. Lotte manager Larry Sutton has set a pitch count of 70 to 85 for Wilkerson’s first start.
Wilkerson, who is 1-1 with a 6.88 ERA in 14 career Major League Baseball games, spent last year with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. Lotte appreciated Wilkerson’s experience in Asian baseball, saying that he has “excellent movement on his fastball and a strong changeup.”
The highly-anticipated Wilkerson has a huge task ahead of him in his debut. He needs to catch Dusan, who are looking to extend their winning streak to 12 games, and end Lotte’s three-game losing streak.
Lotte is currently in the worst possible mood. After going downhill since June, the team has failed to rebound in the second half of the season and is in sixth place with 39 wins and 42 losses. It’s been about three months since Lotte has been outside the “top five” since April 20 (when they were seventh). With only two games in hand over the eighth-place Kiwoom Heroes (40 wins, 2 losses, and 48 draws) and the Hanwha Eagles (35 wins, 4 losses, and 42 draws), Lotte could slip further down the table if its slump is prolonged.
Lotte has conceded a whopping 44 runs in its last six games, starting with the last series of the first half against NC on Dec. 12. They’ve lost the starting battle and have a 7.50 ERA in that span. Na Kyun-ahn, Park Se-woong, Lee In-bok, and Charlie Barnes have all struggled. Wilkerson’s role has become crucial as the starters need to come alive in order to rebound.
Coincidentally, Wilkerson’s first opponent will be Doosan, the most feared team in the KBO right now. Under new manager Lee Seung-yeop, Doosan has won all 11 games in July and morale is through the roof.
If Lotte loses its 26th game, it could become the first team to fall victim to Lee’s record-breaking 12-game winning streak in his first season as a manager in the KBO, both domestically and internationally. 토토사이트 A strong performance from Wilkerson is essential to avoid becoming that sacrifice.