“It was better than I expected”
Lotte Giants Aaron Wilkerson started the 10th game of the season against the Doosan Bears of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, on April 26 and pitched five innings, throwing 76 pitches, giving up two runs (two earned) on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts to pick up his first win in his debut.
Wilkerson signed with Lotte during the All-Star break and donned a Lotte uniform. He doesn’t have much major league experience, but last year he pitched for the Hanshin Tigers in Nippon Professional Baseball, going 3-1 with a 1.04 ERA in four games in May, earning monthly MVP honors, and going 5-5 with a 4.08 ERA in 14 appearances.
After parting ways with Hanshin at the end of last season, Wilkerson had been struggling this year, going 3-2 with a 6.51 ERA at Triple-A Oakland Athletics. However, Lotte recognized that Wilkerson had shown flashes of promise during his time with Hanshin and decided to take a gamble on him in Asia.
While not “perfect,” Wilkerson’s pitches were certainly solid. He threw a mix of slider (17 pitches), changeup (11 pitches), curve (11 pitches), and cutter (4 pitches), backed by a fastball that topped out at 149 mph (33 pitches), with very good control and command. In total, Wilkerson threw 76 pitches for strikes, generating 53 of them. His fastball and changeup were particularly impressive, and his cascading curveball was enough for the winning pitch.
Of course, it’s a small sample size, and it’s possible that the lack of information about Wilkerson played a role in the Doosan hitters’ struggles. However, commentator Kim Tae-hyung, who led Doosan to the KBO’s “first” seven consecutive Korean Series appearances as the team’s manager, was full of praise for Wilkerson’s pitching, saying he had “good command” and “a very powerful curveball” in his commentary the previous day (June 26).
“I think he had a very good first outing yesterday,” manager Larry Sutton said before the 27th game against Jamsil Doosan, “and he looked sharp, especially with his fastball going to both home plate, and his changeup was effective and he used it efficiently. I’m thinking 90-95 on my next pitch,” he said with a thumbs-up.
Wilkerson had a very good first start despite not being 100 percent physically due to jet lag. “I said his stamina wasn’t 100 percent, but his first start was better than I expected, and I think his experience in Japan helped him,” Sutton said. “He pitched with the presence and confidence of an experienced pitcher.”메이저놀이터
Meanwhile, Lotte, who ended Doosan’s 12-game winning streak, will look for their first win in the second half of the season with a starting lineup of Yoon Dong-hee (right fielder), Nico Goodrum (third baseman), Ahn Chi-hong (first baseman), Jeon Jun-woo (left fielder), Lee Jeong-hoon (designated hitter), Noh Jin-hyuk (shortstop), Park Seung-wook (second baseman), Yoo Kang-nam (catcher) and Kim Min-seok (center fielder).