After making an early splash in the 2023 KBO, the Lotte Giants currently sit in seventh place in the league. The only bright spot for the team, which has been on a downward spiral since July, has been the performance of Aaron Wilkerson, who was brought in as a replacement foreign pitcher.
Since joining the team in the second half of the season, Wilkerson has been the rock of Lotte’s starting staff. In eight starts since July 26, Wilkerson has pitched 48.2 innings with a 2.03 ERA, making him a worthy first starter.
His fastball averages 144 mph, which isn’t the fastest of pitches, but he’s struck out nearly one batter per inning, proving his excellent command. He also has a solid command of his pitches, allowing just eight walks per inning, and a salty 1.01 WHIP.
So far, Wilkerson is an unstoppable ace. He’s averaging more than six innings per game and hasn’t faltered at all when he’s gotten into trouble. He hasn’t had much help from his defense, with five of his 11 unearned runs this season coming in the form of five unearned runs, but he has been seen in the dugout consoling defenders who have made mistakes.
For his outstanding performance, Wilkerson was nominated for the KBO’s August MVP award. It’s no surprise, as he pitched in six games in August, posting a 1.43 ERA in 37.2 innings. Wilkerson is now the No. 1 prospect on every other team’s radar. That means he’s a threat to other teams as well.
The question for Lotte now is how to utilize Wilkerson for the rest of the season and whether to re-sign him. Currently in seventh place with 27 games to go, Lotte is determined to make the most of their remaining games. The rotation of Wilkerson-Barnes, a one-two punch of foreign starters, is fixed after four days of rest. Wilkerson, who pitched the last five days, 온라인바카라 will start against the NC on the 10th.
With seven games separating them from fifth-place SSG, Lotte needs to think about their starting lineup. In the KBO’s five-man rotation, the pitcher who starts on Tuesday is usually scheduled to start on Sunday, except in cases where the pitcher is scheduled to start on Sunday after five or more days of rest. If Wilkerson and Barnes continue to pitch on four days’ rest, as they are currently doing, it will likely lead to overload.
This is not without precedent. Straily, who returned to the Lotte organization last year as a replacement pitcher and had a strong second half, was spaced out on four days of rest at the end of the season. Though not necessarily for that reason, Straylor was unable to regain his form after the start of the 2023 season and was eventually released at the end of the first half.