Foreign pitcher Ricardo Sanchez, 26, is looking to rebound from a rough start under the microscope of South Korean baseball.
Sanchez, who made his debut on May 11 as a substitute for Daejeon Samsung Electronics, quickly found his feet in the KBO. He went 5-0 with a 1.48 ERA in his first nine games of the season before being acquired by Daegu Samsung on May 1. His performance exceeded expectations.
His fastball averaged 148 kilometers, and he was aggressive with his fastball. He didn’t have a lot of variety in his pitches, but his command was excellent with excellent left and right-handed command. On the day of Sanchez’s appearance, the team went undefeated with 8 wins and 1 draw, emerging as Hanwha’s guaranteed victory.
However, in his last appearance of the first half, he suffered his first loss against SSG in Daejeon on the 8th, giving up 8 runs (7 earned) on 10 hits in 3 innings with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Then, in his first start of the second half, against the NC in Daejeon on the 21st, he gave up five runs on 10 hits (three home runs) in five innings with three walks and five strikeouts. For the second straight game, he was hit by 10 hits and allowed 13 runs (12 earned) in 8 innings. His season ERA soared to 3.18.
Even the best pitchers have bad days. In Sanchez’s case, it’s the second straight game he’s allowed hitters to hit him hard. Any fastball that was even slightly over the plate was hit. The three home runs against NC stood out in particular. In his previous 10 games, he hadn’t allowed a home run in 51⅔ innings.
He gave up back-to-back homers to Yoon Hyung-jun and Park Gun-woo in the fifth inning, both on fastballs. Neither hitter reacted to Sanchez’s changeup, but instead targeted the fastball and timed it well. Rather than a drop in command or the effect of hitters’ eyes getting used to the ball, we suspect exposure to pitching habits.
The next day, Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “I think the hitters’ habits were exposed a little more than they were used to Sanchez’s pitches. They didn’t hit the changeup, only the fastball. Once a pitcher’s habits are established, Korean hitters don’t hit changeups, only fastballs. When fastballs are crowded, they are bound to get hit hard. I told the data team to look for habits.” 스포츠토토
The Hanwha data team quickly analyzed Sanchez’s habits and found the problematic behavior. The team showed Sanchez the video, and he was quick to accept it and make changes. “Foreign players are very reluctant to change (their habits),” says Choi, “but Sanchez was immediately convinced when he saw the video. “He was surprised to hear that Korean players can see the pitcher’s habits, so we’ll see how he does in the next game,” Choi said.
Sanchez will start against Gochuk Kiwoom on the 27th. Hanwha has a chance to complete its first three-game sweep of the season. After refining his pitching habits, it will be interesting to see if Sanchez can overcome his two-game slump and lead Hanwha to the sweep.