He struck out 10 batters in his debut. It looked like he had the makings of a dominant ace, but double-kicking and squatting became an issue, and he was stressed out and complained of elbow pain. KIA’s Mario Sanchez (29) ‘Tigers Dream’ is not easy.

The Tigers lost two of their top pitching prospects, Shawn Anderson and Adonis Medina. Then they called up Thomas Pannoni, a left-handed Pinese pitcher who was the de facto ace in the second half of last year. Pannoni’s pairing here was certainly unique.

KIA spent quite a bit of money to acquire Sanchez, who was playing in Taiwan. As expected, Sanchez was dominant in his debut against KT on July 9, going 6 1/3 innings with five hits,스포츠토토 10 strikeouts, and one run. He was very competitive against a KT lineup that was gaining momentum at the time.

Sanchez/KIA Tigers

Sanchez didn’t make much of a splash, but he had the unique ability to actually pitch from the left side of the mound, with his right foot grazing the first base plate. His outside sliders and sweepers against right-handed hitters were very effective, which is a good thing since he doesn’t have a fastball.

However, his double-kicking and squatting defense have been controversial since his debut. KT manager Lee Kang-cheol immediately appealed. From then on, it became routine for the opposing bench to observe Sanchez’s pitching form and habits. It was said that each umpire group made a slightly different interpretation, making Sanchez’s head spin. “I still haven’t gotten used to it,” Sanchez said after the Gwangju Hanwha game on May 25.

Sanchez/KIA Tigers

In the end, it was decided that double-kicking was not an option. Not really. However, the KBO umpires’ interpretation of the squatting block was that it was a balk if it didn’t continue a certain motion. On the 25th, Hanwha Jeon-seo was called for a balk. After taking a squatting position, he was supposed to open his shoulder toward first base once, but he didn’t do it and immediately blocked it.

Apart from that, I definitely struggled against lefties. I’m not a big hitter, but I had one or two clutch innings where I gave up runs and didn’t manage my ERA very well. He was also unable to go the distance. That’s why his most recent outing, a seven-inning, two-hit, six-strikeout, two-walk, one-run performance on April 25, was significant.

It could have been a turning point of sorts, even though it was against Hanwha, a team with a poor batting lineup in the second half. However, he went downhill from there. He reported elbow discomfort to the club after the game, and after cross-checks in Gwangju and Seoul, he was diagnosed with partial medial collateral ligament damage in his right elbow and impingement syndrome.

Sanchez/KIA Tigers

He will need three weeks of rest and injections. Once he feels better, he’ll be on a timetable to return to pitching out of the bullpen. While the worst has been averted, it’s an added worry for a starting rotation that has had its fair share of problems, big and small. Add in Lee’s sabbatical and the Asian Games call-up, and the KIA staff will now have to rotate their starters about once a week.

Separately, Sanchez’s Tigers dream is in trouble. After playing in Taiwan, he made the jump to the next level of the KBO and is determined to succeed, but it hasn’t gone his way. In eight games, he went 4-2 with a 5.28 ERA. That’s not good. However, if he can come back at the end of the season and have an accident in the postseason, he could go down as one of the greatest comebacks of all time. 

Sanchez/KIA Tigers

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