The team needs him. It’s a matchup between the man they brought in for this very moment this season and the ‘miracle man’.
The LG Twins and KT Wiz will meet for the second time at Jamsil Stadium on April 8. LG will start Choi Won-tae and KT will start Cuevas.
The ‘challengers’ KT Wiz won the first game.
For LG, on the first day of LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo’s visit and the day that Kim Yong-soo and Kim Dong-soo, the last winning battery in 1994, took the pitching and catching duties, they got off on the wrong foot in their quest to win their first Korean Series title in 29 years.
KT was still riding high after completing a reverse sweep in the playoffs.
The ‘go-quel’ and ‘iron-walled bullpen duo’ Son Dong-hyun and Park Young-hyun secured the Game 1 victory. The team burned even hotter with a four-game winning streak in fall baseball. In the history of the KBO, the winning percentage of the team that wins the first game of the Korean Series is 74.4% (29/39).
The key to LG’s success was Choi Won-tae. Along with the free-agent signing of Park Dong-won before the season, it’s safe to say that LG made a decision to win the Korean Series this year. They traded away “promising prospect” Lee Joo-hyung and gave the burgundy homegrown ace a striped uniform.
In the first half of the season, he started 17 games for Kiwoom, going 6-4 with a 3.25 ERA, before moving to LG in late July.
After the move, his regular season didn’t meet expectations. Although he pitched six scoreless innings against the Doosan Bears on July 30, he finished the season with a 3-3 record and a 6.70 ERA in nine games. At 44⅓ innings, he was averaging less than five innings per game.
The trade proved to be a necessary one, however, as Adam Plutko was released at the end of the season.
Now, the team is in crisis. Won-tae Choi will have to fill Plutko’s shoes as the No. 2 starter. They lost game one.
He is the player for this moment, for this game. It’s up to him to do his part to turn things around.
Cuevas, on the other hand, is the heart and soul of KT, an icon of ace instincts. He was re-signed after leading KT to its first championship in 2021, but was replaced by an injury last year.
But this year, KT wanted him back, and he came back in June. He started 18 games and pitched 114 1/3 innings, going 12-0 with a 2.60 ERA and leading KT to a third-place finish in the regular season.
The postseason has been a struggle. Cuevas started Games 1 and 4 of the playoffs. In Game 1, he gave up seven runs in three innings on an infield error, and in Game 4, on three days’ rest, he pitched six innings of one-hit ball. 캡틴토토 도메인
It’s a tough spot for exclusivity or a closer. In the end, it was left to Cuevas to carry the load in hopes of another upset.
After Game 4 of the playoffs, Cuevas laughed and said, “Next time, I want to pitch with more rest.” This time, he pitched after four days of rest. KT can only hope that the “Cuevas Miracle” will happen again.
Two years ago on October 28, Cuevas threw 108 pitches in the second game of a regular-season doubleheader against NC, and just two days later, he started the first-place game against the Samsung Lions on October 31, throwing 99 pitches over seven innings, striking out eight and walking none.
It was an extraordinary gesture for the team, which took great care of him and his family after losing his father to COVID-19. The roar after he hit a 148-kilometer fastball in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was a decisive moment that led to KT’s first championship that year.
Will we see Cuevas’ deep roar again, this time at Jamsil Baseball Stadium?