Why Hanwha signed Sanchez for $400,000, “a type of lefty Korea doesn’t have”

Hanwha lost $800,000 in guaranteed salary when foreign pitcher Butch Smith, their opening day starter, was released with shoulder soreness after 2⅔ innings and 60 pitches. The team’s season has been a disaster from the start, but Ricardo Sanchez, 26, who was hastily acquired for half the price of Smith ($400,000), is proving to be a lifesaver.

Sanchez, who made his KBO debut on March 11, quickly got off to a strong start, going 3-0 with a 1.39 ERA in six games. In 32 1/3 innings pitched, he struck out 28 먹튀검증 batters and walked just six. His detailed stats are also excellent, with a 0.84 WHIP and a 1.18 K/BB ratio. Hanwha has won all six of Sanchez’s starts.

His best outing came on April 10 against LG, when he threw eight innings of two-hit ball with two walks and eight strikeouts. Against LG’s lineup, which featured six lefties, he focused on the body. He induced six infield grounders, including two against lefties alone. Moon Bo-kyung in the second inning and Shin Min-jae in the third inning were both hit by Sanchez’s fastball to second base.

The next day, LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop said, “Our hitters were not hitting well, but Sanchez’s pitches were so good, and the left-handed batters were effective. Our left-handers are not weak against left-handed pitchers, but when the ball came in close to 150 kilometers, all the hits worked. He has good pitching mechanics and balance, so he’s not a pitcher who can break down in one big inning. I think Hanwha got a good pitcher,” he said of Sanchez.

Hanwha also paid attention to this aspect when recruiting Sanchez. Hanwha overseas scout Kim Jin-young, a former pitcher himself, said, “We noticed that he had good throwing mechanics and was aggressive with his fastball. There are not many left-handed pitchers in the KBO who can throw to lefties’ bodies. Sanchez can do that.”

Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho also said, “In Korea, there are very few left-handed pitchers who target lefties’ bodies. He said that he practiced that a lot since he was in the United States. His fastball movement is clean, so he seems to have a desire to utilize the course.”

In Korea, most left-handed pitchers step on the first base side of the plate and throw with the right-hander’s body and the left-hander’s outside. However, Sanchez consistently throws the ball in the center of the plate and close to the left-hander’s body, a style that is bound to be more successful in the KBO, where there are many excellent left-handed hitters.

This is a rare type of pitcher in the KBO, and lefties struggle with it. Among pitchers who have faced lefties at least 50 times, only two lefties have a lower batting average than Sanchez (.200): NC’s Koo Chang-mo (.189) and KIA’s Lee Yi-ri (.194). Sanchez (.459) has a lower OPS than Koo (.512) and Lee (.584).

Sanchez said, “It’s very difficult for a left-handed pitcher to throw to a lefty’s body. It took me a long time to learn how to do that, but with practice, I’ve gotten it and I’m able to apply it in games. If a left-hander’s ball goes well into the left-hander’s body, it’s hard to get a strong hit, so I’m actively utilizing it.”

Most importantly, Hanwha has continued its winning formula with a 100 percent win rate in six games on the day Sanchez comes out. “The tempo is fast and the strike rate is high, so the offense seems to be a little bit better,” Choi said. Sanchez’s ultra-fast intervals, in which he pitches as soon as he receives the ball, are also rare in the KBO. Hanwha’s offense ranks last in the league in this category, averaging 3.8 runs per game, but when Sanchez is on the mound, the offense jumps to 8.9 runs supported per nine innings.

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