NC’s ‘1.9 BB per 9 innings’ ControlMaster lefty signing, ‘college alum’ Luchinski to be ‘savior’ without Gutierrez
The NC Dinos, desperate to make the postseason, have finally pulled the trigger on a foreign pitcher. Will the ‘left-handed savior’ who is supposed to fill the holes in the starting lineup be able to land in Korea?
The Dinos announced on Thursday that they “requested a waiver from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) for Widener and signed pitcher Tanner Paul Tully (29) as a replacement foreign player.” The contract is worth a total of $200,000 ($262,000), with a $150,000 signing bonus and a $50,000 option.
Widener, who was released today, was 4-2 with a 4.52 ERA in 11 games this season. He showed promise in spring training, but a herniated disc prevented him from making the opening day roster. He made his comeback on May 30 against the Changwon Doosan, causing headaches for the coaching staff with his up-and-down performance.
In his comeback, Widener pitched six innings of two-hit ball, striking out nine and walking none, but then collapsed in his next game, giving up nine runs. In his four appearances in the month of July, he had a roller coaster of 4⅓ innings-6 innings-4 innings-6 innings. “He didn’t consistently show the form we saw in camp and had ups and downs,” NC manager Lim Sun-nam told Star News. “After the game against Hanwha (in Daejeon) on the 22nd of last month, I talked to manager Kang Myung-hwa. There was an opinion that he needed to be replaced on the field, so we discussed it and finally decided to replace him.”
Widener, who left Korea after pitching a 7-inning, 1-run Quality Start Plus (7+ innings pitched, 3 earned runs or less) in his last game (against Sasik Lotte on the 2nd), and Tanner, who came in as his replacement, are two different players.
Who is Tanner “As a starter, he has a strong… Excellent slider, no problem with restraint in KBO”
Tanner was born in 1994 and is a 6-foot-2, 200-pound left-handed pitcher. A product of Ohio State University, Tanner is a college classmate of former NC ace Drew Luchinski, 35, and in fact, Tanner said he “heard about the KBO from Luchinski.” Luchinski played for NC from 2019 through last year, compiling a career record of 53 wins and a 3.06 ERA, most notably leading the team to the 2020 title.
Tanner entered the professional ranks as a 26th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians) in the 2016 First-Year Player Draft. In his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut last year, Tanner went 3-0 with a 6.00 ERA in three big league appearances. In the minor leagues, he went 44-51 with a 4.18 ERA in 159 career appearances, including a 5-5 record with a 5.64 ERA in 19 starts at Triple-A for the New York Yankees this year.
Tanner has made the majority of his career minor league appearances (131) as a starter. You can tell he’s been professionally developed as a starter. He’s also stayed healthy throughout his career, with no significant injuries in his seven years in the minors. In other words, he’s a starter’s starter.
“He throws a fastball that sits between 144 and 148 miles per hour, mixed with a slider, changeup, and curveball,” the NC club said of Tanner. In his most recent outing (last month on the 28th), his fastball averaged 143.5 mph and topped out at 147.3 mph. “He’s never been competitive with his fastball in the U.S.,” said one person familiar with American baseball, “which may not be a big disadvantage in the KBO, where there are relatively few fastball lefties.”
However, his changeup is excellent. In his minor league career, he has walked 164 batters in 787 1/3 innings, or 1.9 per nine innings. Over the last two years, he’s been just as good, with 2.2 walks per nine innings. Given that his predecessor, Widener, had some ups and downs with his pitches, it’s easy to see why NC would want to bring him in.
Among his pitches, his slider is a standout. “It’s in the low 120 kilometers per hour, and it’s a decision pitch with a lot of side-to-side movement,” a baseball insider said, noting that it can be especially powerful against lefties.
Immediate power NC wanted a lefty starter, found the right fit
NC has been plagued by a string of starter departures this year. Ace Eric Peddie (30) has been outstanding with a 14-3 record and 2.10 ERA, but the rest of the rotation has been chaotic. Widener was released after pitching just two months, and Shin Min-hyuk (24) and Song Myung-ki (23) have yet to hit their stride. Even right-hander Lee Yong-jun (21), who made a splash early on, is now in the second team.
Left-handed starters in particular have been “wiped out. Koo Chang-mo (26), who was expected to play a key role as a homegrown starter, was diagnosed with a fatigue fracture of the ulna in his left arm on June 2 after coming off the field after facing only one batter against Jamsil LG. No specific timetable has been set for his return, and he has been undergoing repeated examinations. His replacement, Choi Sung-young (26), was diagnosed with an orbital fracture after being hit in the face by a pitch on June 20 against the Changwon LG and only recently returned to action. Jung Goo-beom (23) has been the only other pitcher to start the last two games.
“We have a lot of holes in the starting lineup, and I thought it would be more balanced to have a left-handed pitcher,” Lim said. “Choi Sung-young’s return is not far off, but Koo Chang-mo is also taking time, and in the reality of the KBO league, it would be helpful to have a left-handed starter,” he said.
It’s also important to note that Widener has been pitching in the minor leagues until recently. “We had a reason for replacing Widener, so we had to prioritize his innings, which is why we signed Tanner, who has been a consistent starter in the minors,” Lim said. In a similar case, Lotte Giants’ Aaron Wilkerson (34) was called up eight days after signing, so Tanner is expected to be called up in a similar timeframe.
Contrary to expectations that NC would be bouncing around the bottom half of the table all season, the team has been playing well into August. As of the 4th, NC is in 4th place with a season winning percentage of 0.517 (46 wins, 43 losses, 1 draw). After languishing in the middle of the pack at the start of the season, the team went on a five-game winning streak in mid-June to move into the top three, but suffered two five-game losing streaks later in the month amid a series of departures of starters including Koo Chang-mo. Since then, the team has been bouncing between third and fifth place in a mid-table battle.메이저사이트
NC, which hadn’t made the postseason in two years after winning the 2020 title, had a golden opportunity this year and made a bold decision. “If we sign after Aug. 15, we won’t be able to register (for the postseason), so we decided to make that the deadline,” Lim said.
“My goal is to win a championship with the NC Dinos,” Tanner said through the organization. I want to make sure everyone on the team is healthy and giving their best every game, including myself.” In order for that to happen, Tanner will need to play well himself.