He tore up his debut. Mario Sanchez, the KIA Tigers’ new foreign pitcher replacing Medina, had a tremendous debut in Korea.

Sanchez started the game, allowing one run and striking out a whopping 10 batters until the seventh inning with one out. He didn’t walk a single batter. Overall, it was a great pitching performance.

A common metric in baseball circles to evaluate a pitcher’s stuff is “can he get strikes with his changeup on three pitches”. On this day, Sanchez did just that. The best part of Sanchez’s game was his command of his pitches. He threw a curve, slider, changeup, two-seam, and cutter, with a high percentage of curve, slider, changeup, and cutter. When facing right-handed batters, he throws his slider, and when facing left-handed batters, he throws his changeup and cutter. This allows me to induce a lot of ground balls.

Most importantly, he proved that both his fastball and changeup have good command. When you have good command of your pitches, you’re not going to fall apart, at least not in one inning. That’s not a bad sign for Kia, as it means he can eat up innings, even if he does give up runs.

Mario Sanchez of the KIA Tigers throws a ball during a baseball game against the KT Wiz at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon on Sept. 9. 메이저놀이터

On the day, Sanchez’s fastball topped out at 142-147 mph, his curve was 122-124 mph, and his slider was 123-133 mph. His changeup sits between 131 and 131. In total, Sanchez threw 88 pitches on the day, with 62 strikes and only 26 balls. It was a very aggressive pitching performance.

The second is his ability to throw hitters off their timing. Sanchez’s fastball only reached 147 kilometers on the day. That’s not a fastball even within the KIA, let alone the entire KBO. However, KT hitters swung at a lot of fastballs today. That’s because he throws a lot of changeups and then suddenly throws one four-seam that hitters can’t time at all.

He tried to make the timing his own by double-keying it and suddenly going from fastball to fastball and then lengthening the tempo. This means he knows how to use his fastball to make it look faster. This goes hand-in-hand with Sanchez’s ability to throw a great changeup.

KIA’s new foreign pitcher Mario Sanchez (left) receives a warning from umpire Choi Won-soo about his pitching form after pitching well in his first start against the visiting KT Wiz of the 2023 KBO at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon, South Korea, on Sept. 9. [Courtesy of the KIA Tigers. Redistribution and DB prohibited].

The final aspect that stood out was mental toughness. On this day, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol made a lot of protests against Mario Sanchez. The first one was about double-kicking. It doesn’t matter that he’s double-king, it’s just that he’s not consistent. The second is about runners on base. Sanchez strongly protested to the umpire that when there is a runner on first base, there is a motion where he looks at the runner before throwing and then back to the runner.

Even after the pitching motion protest, Sanchez didn’t waver at all. He didn”t double-kick at all, and it didn”t affect his pitches at all.

In fact, he reacted even more strongly to his opponent”s criticism. In fact, he became more aggressive and fought with his opponent. KT also reacted strongly, and the atmosphere in the stadium became subtle. Hwang Jae-gyun even glared at Sanchez after striking out. The fact that he wasn’t rattled by his opponent’s protests in his debut, and that he reacted even stronger, shows a lot of mental strength.

Mario Sanchez of the KIA Tigers listens to the umpires during the baseball game against the KT Wiz at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon on Sept. 9. (Courtesy of KIA) /Photo=News1

Manager Kim Jong-kook pulled Sanchez with one out in the seventh inning. He didn’t want to stir up too much controversy because it wasn’t a good debut. As Sanchez should be the team’s mainstay in the future, the decision was made to protect him and to give him a boost on his debut.

Kia took control of the game in the top of the seventh inning with a two-run home run off Park Young-hyun that hit directly at Na Sung-beom’s backscreen, effectively winning the pitching battle.

Hanwha used the acquisition of left-hander Sanchez as a springboard to the middle of the pack. The name Sanchez has good vibes, and KIA’s substitute mercenary has also had a great start so far.

The game was a 5-1 win for KIA over KT. It’s been nearly 70 days since the last five-game winning streak, which included a home run by Kim Kyu-sung against Jamsil LG Electronics. Kia began the counterattack with a 6-2 record in a nine-game series against Ma in the Seoul metropolitan area.

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