William Cuevas (33, KT Wiz), who recently returned to the KBO league, expected a better second half.
Cuevas led the team’s 4-3 victory with 6 ⅔ innings, 7 hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts and 3 runs in an away game in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League regular season against Kiwoom Heroes held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Guro-gu, Seoul on the 12th. With this, he took his 2nd win of the season in the last game of the first half and had an ERA of 4.13, marking the All-Star break.
First of all, the reunion of KT and Cuevas looks successful. Cuevas was recruited ahead of the 2019 season and established a relationship with KT. Until last year, he played four seasons only at KT, recording 33 wins, 23 losses and an average ERA of 3.89 in 82 games in his career. The most impressive year for 4 years with KT was 2021. At that time, after 9 wins in the regular season, Cuevas took a 3-day break in a tie-break match against the Samsung Lions, and then led KT to first place in the regular season and go directly to the Korean Series with 7 innings, 1 hit, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts and no runs. After that, in the Korean Series, the first game was decorated with victory, leading the first championship in the founding.
KT’s miracle in 2021 began after Cuevas awakened his instincts as an ace. Even at that time, Cuevas was recording an ordinary performance, one step ahead of the expelled foreign player, with an average ERA of 4.77, 5 wins and 3 losses in 13 games in the first half. However, in October, he showed peak performance with an ERA of 2.16, which was a great boost to the fierce competition in the regular season. He finished the first half of this year with an average ERA of 4 points, but if he gains momentum in the second half like two years ago, it will be a great deal for KT, which is currently competing for the postseason by 2.5 games with the tied 4th place group.안전사이트
On this day, it was also a performance that showed the past ace days. Prior to the game, KT coach Lee Kang-cheol saw the role of starting pitcher Wes Benjamin as the secret to winning against league ace An Woo-jin (Kiwoom) on the 11th. He said, “Benjamin created the atmosphere. When facing (starting pitchers), the batter’s concentration varies depending on how the pitcher creates the game. Because he keeps blocking it, batters also try to get on base somehow.”
Cuevas immediately proved manager Lee Kang-cheol’s words on the mound. Cuevas, who blocked the 1st and 2nd innings with a tripartite, was greatly shaken by giving away 3 points in the 3rd inning. The choice of Kiwoom, who attacked the first ball, was correct. The 4th attack, which was greeted after a large number of runs, was blocked in succession by Kiwoom second baseman Kim Hye-seong’s Hosabi Parade, and the atmosphere shifted to Kiwoom.
To make matters worse, on this day, the KT fielders made a series of big and small mistakes, including 4 mistakes, regardless of infield and outfield. However, Cuevas increased the out count regardless of this. In the 4th inning with 2 out and 2nd base, the inning ended with a strikeout on a swing, and the 5th inning was finished with 7 balls. In the 6th inning, with 1 company and 2nd base, both times he failed to swing with the slider and did not concede. Even in the 7th inning, with 1 out and 2nd base, Lee Jeong-hoo was set up with a ball to the left field and came down the mound to protect the team’s 4-3 lead.
The total number of pitches by Cuevas, who played 6⅔innings that day, was 99, and the active use of fastballs instead of breaking balls, which were not good at pitches, had an effect. The maximum speed of the fastball was 149 km per hour and the strike rate was 69%, which served as a driving force to endure up to the 7th inning despite massive losses in the 3rd inning while pitching aggressively. After the game, coach Lee Kang-cheol praised, “Cuevas gave up three runs in the first half, but after that, his aggressive pitching worked well and did his part.”
Cuevas said, “I had a walk today, but I’m satisfied with the overall pitches. I’ve returned to the KBO League and haven’t played a few games yet, but it doesn’t seem to have changed much from before. I think it looks like fun matches are expected,” he said with confidence.
He continued, “Today, we finished our last appearance in the first half, and in the second half, we want to lead many teams to victory with a little more stable pitching. We pitch with all our might for the fans. I hope you will support me a lot,” he smiled widely.