‘Triple Crown’ ace cannot appear on the mound… Soft landing in the second half with a 140 km fastball, will it work in fall baseball as well?

NC Dinos Tanner, who joined as a replacement foreign player and had a soft landing, takes the mound with the important responsibility of calling out the ace who achieved the ‘Triple Crown’ in the semi-playoffs.

Tanner will start in the game against the Doosan Bears in the first game of the postseason wild card game of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ held at Changwon NC Park on the 19th. NC returned to the postseason after three years.

Tanner, who joined as a foreign player replacing Taylor Widener, had a smooth landing on the Korean stage. He perfectly filled the partner position of ace Eric Peddy, who achieved the Triple Crown with 20 wins, 209 strikeouts, and an earned run average of 2.00. He recorded 5 wins and 2 losses in 11 games, an ERA of 2.92 (21 earned runs in 64⅔ innings), 47 strikeouts, 13 walks, WHIP of 1.10, and 8 quality starts.

NC’s second half could have been difficult without Peddie’s foreign partner in the starting lineup, which did not have a native ace. But Tanner lived up to expectations. Although Widener had excellent pitching ability, the monotonous pattern and ups and downs of the pitching content amplified anxiety. On the other hand, Tanner did not have an overwhelming pitch, but he showed off his control by throwing a sweeper like Pedi. There were only 1.81 walks per 9 innings. He exquisitely stole batters’ timing by throwing a relatively fast ball with a slow arm swing. Pitching that took away timing was the reason for Tanner’s soft landing. 

Tanner appeared once against Doosan this year on August 20th. He pitched relatively well, allowing 7 hits, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts, and 3 runs (1 earned run) in 6 innings. Doosan may have done a lot of analysis through video, but since he is a relatively unfamiliar pitcher, pitching that steals Tanner’s timing can be effective.

However, the regular season and postseason stages are different. NC has one win and can advance to the semi-playoffs with just one win or one draw, so it is NC that has an absolute advantage and Tanner can be on top. However, Tanner’s not-so-powerful fastball might not work in the postseason. According to the KBO’s official records and statistics company ‘Sports2I’, Tanner’s average fastball speed is only 139.8km. His top speed is in the mid-140km range, but it is not consistent.

In particular안전놀이터, Doosan is a team with fall baseball DNA that advanced to the Korean Series for 7 consecutive years from 2015 to 2021. Although the squad has changed a lot, Jeong Soo-bin, Yang Eui-ji, Heo Gyeong-min, Kim Jae-hwan, and Kim Jae-ho are players who already know how to approach fall baseball and how much to focus. 

It has already been proven through many cases that pitchers who can attack and overwhelm with force are more powerful and effective in short-term games. Clumsy strength and technique cannot easily break the concentration of batters, but a fast ball can disarm them. This is Tanner’s risk factor. Tanner’s matchup opponent, Kwak Bin, is a fireballer with an average fastball velocity of 147.1km this year. Therefore, it is even more disappointing that Triple Crown ace Peddie cannot play in the first postseason stage of his return after three years.

NC competed fiercely for third place until the end of the regular season. There was a high possibility of going straight to the semi-playoffs. On the 16th, he pitched Peddie in the Gwangju KIA game and aimed to solidify 3rd place. Peddie pitched 5⅔ innings of scoreless pitching in this game. However, he suffered an unexpected injury when his right arm was hit by a batted ball. Fortunately, it ended in a hit, but as Peddie was unable to play longer innings, the team lost and fell to 4th place. It was impossible to pitch in the wild card game right away and he was left out of the entry list. Prepare for selection in the first round when advancing to the semi-playoffs.

Tanner must lead the team to victory in the weighty stage of the first fall baseball game. If Tanner collapses in the first game, the crisis of the first upset in wild card history could become a reality. The starting pitchers for the second game are NC Song Myeong-ki and Doosan Brandon. Brandon joined as a substitute and is a one-two punch ace with 11 wins, 3 losses, and an ERA of 2.49. The weight is leaning heavily toward Doosan.

In the end, Tanner must pitch well to summon Peddie, who is waiting for the semi-playoffs. Will Tanner be able to show that a 140km fastball can work in fall baseball and lead the team to the semi-playoffs? 

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