The saying “old is new again” is definitely true for the 2023 season.
Foreign players who played in the KBO last year but were separated from the team are back and doing well, saving the team.
Three of the ‘old guard’ returned this season. First, KT Wiz’s “winning ace” William Cuevas announced his return, followed by Doosan Bears bringing back Brandon Waddell. The KIA Tigers brought back Thomas Pannoni, who was brought in as a replacement last year but did not re-sign.
Cuevas has been a stalwart for KT since 2019. In 2021, he pitched seven shutout innings in the KBO’s first-ever tiebreaker on two days’ rest to lead the team to the regular season title and then dominated Game 1 of the Korean Series to secure KT’s first title. Unfortunately, injuries cut him short last year. After pitching two games, he was replaced by an elbow injury. Cuevas rehabbed without surgery and returned to replace Bo Schuler, who has struggled this year. His elbow, which wasn’t great last year, has been fully evaluated. He is 2-0 with a 4.13 ERA in five starts.
Brandon Waddell, who replaced the injured Dylan Pyle, came to Korea last year as Miranda’s replacement and posted a respectable 5-3 record with a 3.60 ERA in 11 games, but Doosan opted for the fastballer instead of re-signing him. Unfortunately, injuries ended Dillon’s career and Doosan re-signed Brandon. He’s back and pitching even better. In four games, he is 2-1 with a 1.04 ERA. In his first start against Kiwoom on June 24, he gave up one run in six innings and took the loss, but on June 30 he pitched seven scoreless innings against Lotte, got his first win against Samsung Electronics on June 6 with seven innings of one-run ball (unearned), and in his last start of the first half against SSG on June 12, he pitched six innings of one-run ball against Kim Kwang-hyun and got the win.메이저놀이터
He pitched much more consistently than he did last year, leading the team to a nine-game winning streak.
KIA’s Panoni also had a good year last year. He went 3-4 with a 2.72 ERA in 14 games. Despite being a reliable pitcher, KIA wanted a relief pitcher with a hard fastball, so they didn’t sign him.
However, as KIA’s top two picks, Adonis Medina and Sean Anderson, struggled, the team decided to replace them and bring back Pannoni, who showed good form last year. On the 12th, he made his comeback against Gwangju Samsung Electronics and gave up two runs on four hits in four innings. Kia won 3-2, extending their winning streak to six games.
The advantage of pitching in Korea is that you don’t have to make any adjustments when you come back during the season. They know Korean baseball so well that you can expect better pitching. And that’s exactly what the three returning foreign pitchers did on Dec. 12.