“Tomorrow (26th), Wilkerson will start.”
Lotte Giants coach Larry Sutton predicted Aaron Wilkerson , a new foreigner, as the starting pitcher for the match against Doosan Bears in Jamsil on the 26th. Wilkerson signed a contract with Lotte for a total of $350,000 as a replacement for Dan Straley, who was recently released by Lotte. In his Korean debut, Wilkerson was entrusted with the important task of breaking Lotte’s three-game losing streak and stopping Doosan’s 12-game winning streak.
Coach Sutton said, “I have to watch the game, but I’m thinking of pitching between 70 and 85. I’ll have a conversation during the game and check my physical condition, and if I’m in good shape after throwing up to the 6th inning and the number of pitches is small, I may have more pitches.”
Wilkerson is a player who received attention in the United States for his life reversal drama. Due to right elbow surgery during his college days, he missed the major league draft, and had to earn a living by working part-time at night in a supermarket freezer near his home. When he worked part-time for about six months, the opportunity to play for an independent club came, and Wilkerson wrote a drama about joining the Boston Red Sox in 2014 without giving up on his dream of becoming a pitcher. His big league debut came in 2017 with the Milwaukee Brewers, and he went 1-1 in 14 career games with a 6.88 earned run average in 35⅓ innings and never got another chance.
Even if he didn’t succeed in the major leagues, Wilkerson’s life and challenges deserve applause. Wilkerson continued to take on new challenges based on his experience playing in the major leagues, and last year he experienced Asian baseball by playing for the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). His performance in Japan was 5-5 in 14 games, 70⅔ innings, and an earned run average of 4.08.
Lotte believed that Wilkerson would be able to fully perform on the Korean stage. The team said, “Wilkerson’s fastball movement is excellent and his breaking ball control is his strength, and he highly evaluated his ability to adapt to Asian baseball through his experience in the Japanese professional league.”
Wilkerson also showed confidence, “I like Asian culture itself. That’s why I wanted to come to Korea. I think there will be no problems in Korea because I had experience in Japan last year.”
The key is how to calm the Doosan lineup, which has recently gained 11 consecutive wins. The recent cycles of Doosan-centered lineups such as Kim Jae-hwan, Yang Eui-ji, Yang Seok-hwan, and Jose Rojas are good, and the batting feel of hitters who add texture to the lineup, such as Su-bin Su-bin, Heo Gyeong-min, Park Joon-young, and Kang Seung-ho, is good.
Wilkerson is looking to prove his worth with an offensive pitch. He said, “I want to say that I am a pitcher who throws a lot of strikes in one word. My biggest strength is that I can throw all kinds of pitches with strikes. I have maintained this throughout my career and I think it is the reason I was able to experience the major leagues.”
Will Wilkerson, who has lived a baseball life like a weed, complete another drama by using a miracle in his Korean debut?