“I can say without a doubt that Benjamin is the best pitcher in the KBO league. There is no comparison to last year.”
This is the exclamation that ‘genius hitter’ Kang Baek-ho (24, KT Wiz) uttered in response to Wes Benjamin (30), who showed outstanding pitching by allowing 1 run (0 earned) in 6 innings in this season’s opening game. Five months later, Benjamin proved why he was praised as the best pitcher by completely obliterating his nemesis, SSG Landers, in 7⅔ innings with even more perfect pitching.
Benjamin achieved his 15th win (5 losses) 메이저사이트 of the season against Incheon SSG on the 12th with 1 hit, no walks, 8 strikeouts, and no runs in 8 innings. This is tied with the most wins in a single season for the club recorded by Odrissamer Despaigne in 2020, and with just one more win, he will leave his name in KT history.
He was responsible for 8 innings, throwing a total of 103 pitches, including fastballs (44 pitches), cutters (34 pitches), sliders (19 pitches), changeups (5 pitches), and curveballs (1 pitch). Choi Ji-hoon, who threw 8 pitches in the 7th inning, should be praised, and Benjamin showed flawless pitching until 2 outs in the 7th inning. In the end, Choi Jeong’s double hit broke the KBO League’s first record, but he completely silenced SSG’s batting lineup by finishing with 10 balls in the 8th inning.
After the game, Benjamin said, “I was in very good shape today. I was conscious of being perfect from the 4th and 5th innings, but it actually served as an opportunity to be more calm and focused. I was very disappointed that I couldn’t do perfect. I threw the ball a little deeper to Choi Jeong.” “I should have lost, but I ended up in the middle. Choi Jeong said he was sorry, but I said, ‘There is no need to be sorry at all.’ He is a hitter with a very good swing, so it is natural for Choi Jeong to get a hit,” he said resolutely.
For Benjamin, this good performance against SSG was special. Benjamin, who entered the KBO last year as a replacement for William Cuevas, was weak against SSG with an ERA of 5.70 in 4 games, 1 win and 2 losses, before this game. This year, the average ERA in two games was 6.75, and the hitter-friendly Incheon SSG Landers Field was the opposite for Benjamin, who had quite a few home runs. However, expectations for fall baseball were also raised as they completely defeated SSG, a potential postseason rival and ‘natural enemy’, in the final match of the regular season.
What remains for him now is how he will show against the KIA Tigers, who currently have the strongest batting lineup. In the second half of the season, KIA is ranked first in the league in various batting indicators with a team batting average of 0.308, 34 home runs, and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.831. On the same day, he showed off his scary firepower by playing in a close game of 9:10 against the Samsung Lions, despite allowing two grand slams.
However, Benjamin is also gaining momentum as the fall approaches, with 6 wins, 2 losses, and an ERA of 2.73, including 4 consecutive quality starts in the second half of the season. SSG, which had the upper hand over the opponent, sniped at the left-hander and placed eight right-handed hitters in the starting lineup, but he almost suffered a perfect hit.
There is one more reason to look forward to the match between Benjamin and KIA. The team that showed consistent hitting throughout the season is the first-place LG Twins. KIA, which is struggling in the second half, is also behind LG in terms of season performance, with a team batting average of 0.285 to 0.277 and an OPS of 0.764 to 0.745. And the player who reigns as LG’s natural enemy is Benjamin. Benjamin has an absolute advantage over LG this season with 4 wins, no losses, and an ERA of 0.84 in 5 games, 3 walks, and 30 strikeouts in 32⅓ innings. Benjamin’s good pitching against LG is the basis for not easily guaranteeing victory despite KIA showing a bad bat in the second half of the game.
Benjamin has not met KIA since September 4th of last year, when he pitched 2⅔ innings, allowing 3 hits (1 home run), 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, and 1 run. However, since KT has 7 games left with KIA starting on the 22nd, they have no choice but to meet at least once. In addition, the two teams are currently considered the strongest candidates for second place, so the importance of the matchup is increasing.
The foreign ace, who again showed off top pitching in the KBO League at the end of the season, is trying to soothe the disappointment of the perfect failure in fall baseball. Benjamin said, “I was greedy for a shutout, but the coach told me not to overdo it, and (in my opinion) I thought it would be better to save this energy now and use it for fall baseball.” “I’m not worried. My goal is to finish the season well until the end and go to the fall baseball game and pitch hard and well,” he said emphatically.