Elias will take the mound for the first time in 52 days

Foreign pitcher Roenis Elias (36), who has joined the SSG Landers, will take the mound for the first time in 52 days.

Elias was placed on the disabled list on May 12 after pitching against the Gwangju KIA Tigers.

Initially scheduled to start against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes on May 18, Elias felt pain in his side during pregame warmups and was removed from the roster the next day.

He was later diagnosed with a left adductor muscle injury and was told he would be out for six weeks.

With Elias’ absence prolonged, SSG decided to utilize the short-term substitute foreign player program that was introduced this year.

SSG utilized the program to sign Keisho Shirakawa from the Tokushima Indigo Sox of the Japanese Independent League. He signed a six-week contract for a total of 1.8 million yen (approximately $1.55 million).

Shirakawa had no professional experience, although he had played as an ace for a team in the Japanese Independent League. As you can see from the size of the contract, SSG didn’t have high hopes for him.

However, Shirakawa quickly adapted to the KBO and raised expectations.

In five appearances for SSG, he went 2-2 with a 5.09 ERA, but showed promise. His fastball tops 150 kilometers per hour and he has a quality forkball, making him a difficult pitcher for opposing hitters to hit.

As Shirakawa adjusted to the KBO, it was time for Elias to return.

After recovering from his injury, Elias began his comeback on June 20 in a Futures (Second Division) League game against the Kiwoom Heroes, followed by one more Futures League game against the Sangmu to get his feel for the game.

SSG went back and forth between Shirakawa and Elias, 고스톱 게임 with the two having distinct strengths and weaknesses that divided the organization.

In the end, SSG chose Elias. On February 2, SSG announced that they had decided to terminate Shirakawa’s contract.

SSG decided to trust Elias’ experience.

In announcing the termination of Shirakawa’s contract the day before, SSG explained, “We believe that Elias is more competitive in strengthening the second half of our starting staff, including the advantage of a left-handed pitcher and a wealth of starting experience.”

Having already released the struggling Robert Duggar and brought in Drew Anderson, SSG risked using up their maximum of two foreign player trades per season if they chose Shirakawa.

After being “selected” by SSG, Elias will start against the NC Dinos at Changwon NC Park on March 3.

It’s his turn to prove the club was right.

After joining SSG last May as a substitute foreign pitcher and posting a record of 8-6 with a 3.70 ERA in 22 games, Elias re-signed with SSG after the 2023 season for a total of $1 million (approximately KRW 1.38 billion).

However, before his injury, he was 2-3 with a 4.73 ERA in seven appearances.

Shirakawa’s emergence from injury may have given Elias a positive boost.

In his two rehab starts in the Futures League, Elias reportedly took the game more seriously.

“Shirikawa is pitching well, so I think Elias is relaxing a little bit,” SSG manager Lee Sung-yong said on March 26 before making the decision.

Recently, the LG Twins’ two foreign pitchers, Casey Kelly and Dietrich Enns, rebounded after manager Yoon Kyung-yup suggested they might be replaced.

Kelly, who had been up and down, regained his form in late May after Yim mentioned the possibility of replacing him. In particular, he nearly achieved a perfect game on June 25 against the Samsung Lions in Jamsil. He also pitched well against Gochuk Kiwoom on June 2 with six innings of one-run ball.

After a shaky start, Enns stabilized in his five games in June, going 3-0 with a 3.10 ERA.

Unintentionally, SSG will be hoping that Shirakawa’s emergence will provide a positive spark for Elias.

As much attention has been focused on Shirakawa’s retention, there will also be a lot of attention on Elias’ return to the field.

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