The KT Wiz have given their ace three days’ rest to push the playoffs to Game 5. They desperately need the second coming of Koo Dong-won, who pitched seven innings on two days’ rest to lead them directly to the Korean Series two years ago.
KT manager Lee Kang-cheol on Wednesday named William Cuevas as the starting pitcher for Game 4 of the best-of-five playoff series against the NC Dinos in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO postseason at Changwon NC Park.
Cuevas joined the team in June as a replacement for Bo Schuler and became a success story as a replacement foreign pitcher. He led the team to the 2021 title before leaving the following year after just two games due to injury, but this year, with an upgraded performance, he became the third pitcher in KBO history to go undefeated (12 wins), joining Oh Bong-ok (13 wins) in 1992 and Kim Hyun-wook (10 wins) in 2002. He was the first foreign player to do so. Coach Lee Kang-cheol credited Cuevas with leading the team from last place to second.
However, the first leg of the playoffs at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on March 30 was a disappointment. The day before the game, Cuevas said, “I’m in great shape. I’m the best pitcher in the KBO, so the NC hitters will be afraid of me,” he said before the game, but he was pummeled for seven runs (four earned) in three innings by the NC hitters, who came up through the semifinals to determine the wild card. Lee said, “Cuevas had too much energy in the first inning. He was trying to pitch too well,” Lee said.
Time passed and Cuevas had a chance to avenge his Game 1 loss, as KT, who were on the brink of a shocking two-game sweep at home, bounced back with a 3-0 win in Game 3 on Game 2. With one loss still needed to end the fall baseball season, Lee made a surprise decision to use Cuevas, who started Game 1, as the starter for Game 4 in order to win Game 5. Cuevas, who threw 75 pitches in Game 1, took the mound after three days of rest.
“As soon as Game 1 was over, I told Cuevas to get ready for Game 4 because he had the right number of pitches. I thought we were going to go to Game 4 anyway. He said he was OK that day,” he said. “It wasn’t a bad pitch in Game 1. There were one or two pitches that I checked, but if you recognize them and go in, you’ll be fine because he’s a good pitcher. The record is in our favor in the matchup with Song Myung-ki,” he said, expressing confidence.
Cuevas earned the nickname “Koo Dong-won” two years ago for his fighting spirit reminiscent of the late Choi Dong-won. There were concerns about him pitching on four days’ rest in Game 4, but in 2021, he took the mound on just two days’ rest and pitched a seven-inning, 99-pitch shutout to clinch the regular season title. 토토사이트
On October 28, 2021, the final day of the regular season, Cuevas started against the Suwon NC and threw seven innings, nine hits, two walks, 12 strikeouts, and two runs on 108 pitches. The win lifted KT from second place to a tie for first.
KT and Samsung then tied for first place, setting up the KBO’s first-ever tiebreaker, and Cuevas, who had two days off, pitched seven innings of one-hit ball, three walks, eight strikeouts, and 99 pitches to punch his ticket directly to the Korean Series. At the time, Heo Gu-yeon MB