What a success story for a foreign pitcher.
KT Wiz’s reacquisition of William Cuevas is one of the biggest success stories of all time. Cuevas, who earned the honorary nickname “The Winning Pitcher스포츠토토” after leading KT to the title in the 2021 season, was forced to leave the team last year after pitching just one game due to an elbow injury. KT debated whether to re-sign Cuevas after last season, but injury concerns led them to sign Bo Schuler in his place for a total of $740,000.
His first two games were good, including a quality start on April 11 against the Changwon NC in which he allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. Unfortunately, the team lost 0-1, and Schuler’s first start was a loss. However, in his second start on April 16 against the Suwon Hanwha Eagles, he threw six innings of four-hit shutout ball and recorded his second consecutive quality start and first win.
It’s always good for a foreign pitcher to get their first win quickly, so it seemed like a good start and a win in two games would be a sign of things to come.
From there, Schuler’s pitching got worse and worse, and the team’s losses piled up. His fastball was powerful, but he was trying to throw his changeup more than his fastball. His confidence dropped.
On May 23, he recorded his first quality start in six games with 6⅓ innings of 6 hits and 2 runs against Suwon Kiwoom, but he lost again, and on May 28, he gave up 8 hits and 6 runs in 3⅓ innings against Daegu Samsung Electronics. He was sent to the second team the next day.
Normally, clubs would send a struggling foreign pitcher to the second team to rehabilitate him and give him one last chance to see what he can do.
KT was different. While KT kept tabs on how Cuevas was pitching in the U.S., they quickly realized that other clubs were also looking to sign him. On June 9, they parted ways with Schuler and announced the signing of Cuevas. Schuler was sent down to the second team and never returned to the first team.
Schuler left South Korea with a 1-7 record and a 5.62 ERA in nine appearances.
Cuevas made his first appearance eight days after signing. On June 17, he gave up three runs on five hits in 4⅔ innings for the Suwon Samsung Electronics. The team won 6-5.
After picking up his first win in his second start on June 23 against the Gwangju KIA with six innings of four-hit, one-run ball, Cuevas struggled a bit but settled down, especially in August. He started his QS+ streak on the 2nd against the Suwon SSG Landers. On the 27th, he went eight innings against the Busan Lotte, allowing one run on six hits. His first eight-inning start of the season. The team won 2-1, giving Cuevas his eighth win.
In five games in August, he went 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA.
In nine games with Schuler, KT went 1-8, but in 12 games with Cuevas, they went 10-2. In other words, Cuevas = wins.
Cuevas’ arrival stabilized the entire starting lineup. Once he was in the lineup, the other pitchers were pushed down the order, and that took the pressure off. Wes Benjamin, who had tried to be too good as a starter and it backfired, has regained his form of last year since Cuevas’ arrival. In July, he went 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA and was nominated for the July MVP award.
Domestic pitchers such as Ko Young-pyo and Choi Sang-baek have also become more reliable.
On June 8, the day before Cuevas’ signing was announced, KT was in eighth place in the standings with 21 wins, 2 losses, and 30 draws. The win-loss margin was -9.
After the win against Lotte on June 27, KT is in second place with 62 wins, 2 draws, and 47 losses. Their win-loss margin is ‘+15’.
It cost $450,000 to reacquire Cuevas. It has already paid for itself, as Cuevas has been an ace.