“Overall, I saw growth from last year.”
Doosan Bears substitute foreign pitcher Brandon Waddell (29) has received favorable reviews since his return. Brandon made his first start against the Gochukkium Heroes on the 24th and pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits with 1 walk and 6 strikeouts. While he was saddled with a 2-4 loss due to lack of run support, it was a pitching performance that gives hope for the Doosan lineup in the long run. His fastball was up to 151 kilometers, and he was in good shape overall.
Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop said, “It was good that he did his job. He gave up two runs in six innings in his comeback game. Regardless of the outcome, he pitched as well as he could in terms of speed, changeup ratio, and control. I’m looking forward to the next one.”
Anbang Manim Yang Ji (36), who worked with Brandon, said, “I was nervous because it was my first start, but the ball was good, and I’m looking forward to the future. His fastball had power, and his variety of pitches were all strikes,” said Yang.
Brandon had already played in the KBO last year in a Doosan uniform. He went 5-3 with a 3.60 ERA in 11 games and 65 innings pitched as a replacement for Ariel Miranda, 34, who was unable to overcome a shoulder injury. She was known for her reliable delivery, but her innings pitched in the bullpen in the U.S. before coming to Doosan. Doosan was looking for a new foreign one-two punch this year and considered re-signing Brandon until the last minute, eventually opting for the Raul Alcantara (31)-Dylan Pyle (26) combination.
Before joining Doosan this season, Brandon bided his time, playing for the Rakuten Monkeys of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL). In Taiwan, he continued to experience Asian baseball while developing his innings as a starter. Not one to rest on his laurels, he added a new weapon to his arsenal, a high-angled slider, which gave him a leg up on left-handed batters. When Dillon’s injuries and struggles left him unavailable, Doosan quickly reached out to Brandon and signed him to a contract totaling $280,000 (approximately $300,000). Doosan didn’t hesitate to bring Brandon back because of his commitment to playing in Korea.
Pitching coach Kwon Myung-cheol, who watched Brandon both last year and this year, saw even more growth. “His velocity was good, and both types of sliders were good. He was able to mix his fastball with a cut fastball and a big angle slider, which gave him an advantage against lefties. I was a little nervous about my changeup against righties, but it was my first start, so I wasn’t too worried. I had planned to throw 90 to 100 pitches. Overall, it was a good comeback, even though I wasn’t 100 percent,” he said, giving a thumbs-up.
“It was great to pitch in the KBO again in a Doosan uniform,” said Brandon. “I didn’t get the win, but I was happy to throw my pitches. I was happy that I was aggressive and attacked the strike zone and had a lot of strikes, but I was angry with myself for giving up a walk to the leadoff hitter (Kim Hwijip in the fourth inning),” he said, vowing to pitch more perfectly next time 안전놀이터.
With Brandon’s arrival, Doosan finally has a solid starting lineup more than three months into the season. Lee hinted that the starting rotation of Alcantara, Brandon, Guk-Bin (24), and Choi Won-Jun (29) will be locked in for the foreseeable future. With a fifth starter spot left, it will be necessary to clear the way for Jang Won-jun (38), Choi Seung-yong (22), and Kim Dong-joo (21), who have all been given opportunities as alternate starters.
For now, Jang Won-jun will remain the fifth starter, while Choi Seung-yong will make a full transition to the bullpen starting this week. Kim Dong-ju, who has been on the second team due to back pain, will make one appearance in a Futures League game to check his condition, and if he is fit, he will join the first team next week.
Lee said, “The starting four are finalized. If we don’t have a starter and we keep rotating them, it can be confusing for the players. I think we need to have a solid starting lineup so that our players don’t get lost. Choi Seung-yong will be waiting in the bullpen from next week. I don’t think he’ll start for a while. Our bullpen has been fatigued by the sub-zero temperatures, and when summer comes, there will definitely be a lot of bullpen attrition. Choi Seung-yong will bolster the bullpen from behind. Jang Won-jun will start on Wednesday (Aug. 28 against the Jamsil NC Dinos).”
Lee Young-ha, whose recent struggles have pushed his ERA to 9.00, is out of the rotation for now. Lee believes that the hiatus due to his school violence trial is affecting his performance.
Lee said, “(Lee) hasn’t pitched since September of last year, and I think he’s getting nervous in tight situations without realizing it. He continues to pitch in the first team because his delivery is fine. I think his delivery will improve if he throws in a more relaxed situation. He won’t be a starter, but a pitcher who can pitch longer innings in a more relaxed situation.”
Doosan managed to hold on to a 32-34-1 record with a .485 winning percentage and a fifth-place finish during the extended absence of the No. 2 starter. With Brandon’s arrival, both the starting rotation and bullpen have been given a little breathing room. Can Doosan gain momentum once again and jump into the race for the top spot?