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KBO Roundup: Machado heats up again, Saupold bounces back

The pair of former Detroit Tigers looked a bit better this week while Chad Bell continues to flounder.

Lotte Giants v Doosan Bears Photo by Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images

The first official day of summer is just around the corner but the boys of summer have been in action for well over a month-and-a-half now in Korea, where the KBO continues to chug along as the premier baseball league during the COVID-19 sports shutdown.

Last week, we took a look at the four former Detroit Tigers currently active on Korean rosters and the overall picture was not very pretty. Fortunately for this update, there is much more encouraging news from our favorite old friends.

Dixon Machado

Machado’s 2020 season has been quite a rollercoaster so far, getting off to a hot start before becoming mired in a brutal slump through the first week of June. However, since June 7 the Fates have favored for former Tigers infielder, going 17-42 at the plate for a .405 batting average and an .895 OPS, knocking two doubles, a triple, nine runs scored, six runs batted, two stolen bases and two strikeouts in over that 10-game stretch. Just in the last week he has batted .400 with 10 hits, five runs and an RBI in 25 plate appearance, proving that his current streak is well-sustained.

For the season, the 28-year-old Venezuelan is now batting .266 with a .714 OPS along with four home runs, seven doubles, a triple and five stolen bases, as well as 38 runs scored and 24 RBI in his first season in Korea. Despite his up-and-down play at the plate, he remains one of the best gloves in the KBO.

Warwick Saupold

Much like Machado, Saupold has also seen some up and downs in his second year overseas, though his troughs have been a bit more precipitous. After a complete game shutout to start the season, the Aussie right-hander had a string of starts where he increasingly got pounded, culminating with a five-inning, seven-run outing against the Lotte Giants on June 9. In his one start since, he has managed to right the ship with a win against the Doosan Bears on June 14. In that victorious performance, the former Tiger got his groove back throwing six innings while allowing two unearned runs on eight hits and two hit-by-pitches, as well as four strikeouts. It wasn’t the most beautiful performance, but it got the job done and represented a significant rebound from his previously awful outings.

Saupold was slated to pitch on Thursday, which got rained out, and subsequently expected to take the mound on Friday but apparently was skipped in the rotation against the juggernaut NC Dinos. So far this season, his record sits at 3-4 with a 3.63 and a 1.40 WHIP with 28 strikeouts and 10 walks in 52 innings pitched — modest numbers on the surface, but one of the better stat lines for the lowly Hanwha Eagles in 2020.

Chad Bell

You have to feel badly for Bell right now, who began the season on the injured list with elbow soreness and did not make his first appearance until May 26. Since his 2020 debut, in which he threw 3 ⅓ innings of two-hit ball with three strikeouts and two walks, it has been nothing short of a horror show for the former major leaguer.

Since his opening game, Bell has gotten rung to the tune of a 10 ERA and a 2.28 WHIP, allowing 29 hits and 22 runs — two unearned — along with 12 walks and four home runs in 18 innings pitched. His last appearance on June 17 was as bad as any, giving up seven runs on 11 hits and three walks in six innings pitched for pitiful Hanwha.

For the season, Bell’s stat line reads an astronomical 8.44 ERA and 2.11 WHIP with 15 strikeouts and 14 walks allowed in 21 13 innings. Not great, Bob!

William Cuevas

Cuevas remains on the injured list due to a hip issue and did not see any playing time since our last update. However, Kim Tae-woo of SPOTV reports that he could rejoin the KT Wiz’s team sometime this weekend. Initially it was believed that his injury would keep him out of the lineup for as many as five weeks, but the more recent prognosis has improved.

So far this year, the 29-year-old former big leaguer had not found much success in his second year overseas, racking up a 1-2 record with a 6.28 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 28 2⁄3 innings pitched for the Wiz. In 2019, the Venezuelan right-hander put up solid numbers, going 13-10 with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP along with 135 strikeouts in 184 innings pitched, so hopefully he will regress back to his former performance level when he returns from his injury.

KBO Standings: June 19

1 NC Dinos 27 11 0 0.711 0 1W / 5W 5L 0D
2 LG Twins 25 14 0 0.641 2.5 1L / 7W 3L 0D
3 Doosan Bears 23 16 0 0.59 4.5 2W / 4W 6L 0D
4 Kiwoom Heroes 23 17 0 0.575 5 3W / 6W 4L 0D
5 Kia Tigers 22 17 0 0.564 5.5 3W / 7W 3L 0D
6 Lotte Giants 19 20 0 0.487 8.5 3L / 5W 5L 0D
7 Samsung Lions 19 21 0 0.475 9 2L / 6W 4L 0D
8 KT Wiz 17 22 0 0.436 10.5 4W / 6W 4L 0D
9 SK Wyverns 12 27 0 0.308 15.5 4L / 2W 8L 0D
10 Hanwha Eagles 9 31 0 0.225 19 4L / 2W 8L 0D
Source: MyKBOStats