SSG Landers’ replacement foreign pitcher Roenis Elias, 35, left with both hope and challenges in his KBO debut.
Elias started a home game against the LG Twins at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 24, giving up three runs on five hits (one home run) in five innings and earning the win in the team’s 5-3 victory.
SSG lost ace Ennie Romero, who was expected to be their ace this season, to a shoulder injury and did not pitch a single game. “We can’t wait any longer,” said SSG manager Kim Won-hyung. Even if the rotation was running smoothly with the performance of the domestic starters, the team needed a strong foreign pitcher.
SSG’s long-awaited signing was Elias. The veteran pitcher has a 22-24 record with 14 saves and a 3.96 ERA in 133 games in the American Major League. He also represented Cuba in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). SSG describes him as “a complete left-hander who has all the attributes of a starting pitcher, including good command of his pitches, fastball, changeup, and game management.”
Against LG, the team’s top batting average, Elias reached a maximum speed of 150 kilometers per hour. He threw more than half of his pitches fastballs (49 of 91), with a mix of changeups (27) and curves (15). With runners on first and third in the top of the fifth inning with a 5-3 lead, he used his decisive changeup to get Austin Dean to fly out.
His command left something to be desired. He allowed four walks in five innings. He threw 58.2% strikes (41.8% balls), which is a bit low.
Walks were the key to the runs. In the second inning, he walked Kim Min-sung and then gave up a two-run homer to Lee Jae-won. In the fourth inning, they walked Oh Ji-hwan with one out and then gave up back-to-back singles to Moon Bo-kyung and Kim Min-sung. In the process, Moon was lucky to be thrown out trying to run to third base.
With a 54.5 percent ratio of first-pitch strikes, the offense needs to be more aggressive. In the second inning, Kim Min-sung and Lee Jae-won both struggled with their fastballs, which eventually led to runs.
On the 25th, Kim Won-hyung said, “Elias’ changeup strike rate is dropping. I advised him to throw a changeup with the same pitching form as his four-seam fastball.” “He has power in his fastball. If he can get more velocity on his slider, he’ll have an easier time against lefties.” “It was my first day, so I was a little nervous, and I still need to adjust to the strike zone,” he said, adding, “We’ll see in the next three games 스포츠토토.”
Elias added, “Everyone needs a period of adjustment in their first league. It’s hard to get a good result in your first game in a place like Korea where the level of baseball is so high, so I’m glad we got the win today.”
One of the keys to success for a Korean pitcher is adapting to Korean culture and the KBO. Elias, who is from Cuba, watched the game from the dugout with a smile on his face and cheered on his teammates after he finished pitching.
His wife, son, and daughter were in attendance at the game. His family will stay in South Korea for the entire season. “They all came to the game and supported us, so I wanted to show them a victory,” Elias said.
He also has a supportive teammate. He plays with fellow Cuban Guillermo Heredia, who has also played in Korea, but with the Seattle Mariners.