Kiwoom Heroes signed RHP Jake Brigham to a 1-year, $480,000 contract
This signing shouldn’t come as much of a surprise for a few reasons. First, Brigham has been dominant in the early going of the 2021 Chinese Professional Baseball League season. Second, the right-hander had been playing under monthly contracts with the Wei Chuan Dragons. Lastly, Brigham has an extensive history in the Korea Baseball Organization, specifically with the Heroes. Toss those three elements into a bag and the most likely outcome is Brigham back in the KBO with the Heroes.
Heroes fans know what they are getting with Brigham, but while it is no secret that the KBO is a step above the CPBL in terms of talent level, it’s not that far ahead that Brigham’s Dragons tenure shouldn’t be taken into account. So far (in a strange twist, Brigham is signed with the Dragon until the end of April and has one more start before he will leave for South Korea) the Dragons ace has been exactly that, an ace. In 34.1 innings he has a 0.52 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 2.67 FIP, and 0.8 tWAR. I’ve personally seen Brigham pitch two of his starts and he looked untouchable both times. Heroes fans already trust Brigham plenty and his results with the Dragons give them more reason to trust him.
As for what the Heroes will be getting, well, it won’t be much different from when he was with Kiwoom last season. His pitch mix remains the same; fastball, slider, and the occasional curveball or changeup. He commands all of his pitches very well and is still very good at sequencing. The pitcher the Heroes are getting is of the same caliber he showed during his past KBO days. That’s the likeliest scenario and it is one that the Heroes would gladly welcome. Or, perhaps Brigham has tapped into something in the CPBL. He does seem a bit more aggressive in the zone in Taiwan and hitters have not been able to make him pay for that aggression. There’s a chance he readjusts heading back to the KBO, but it would be interesting to see how his new aggressive approach plays out if he stays down that path.
The Heroes themselves are in desperate need of pitching. They currently sit near the bottom of the KBO standings and the main reason for that has been their lack of quality outings from the starting rotation. Brigham will be replacing Josh Smith in the Heroes rotation. If Brigham can come in and not give up contact all over the place while walking plenty of guys he will be an upgrade over Smith. There’s little doubt Brigham will be an upgrade, the Heroes have signed him specifically because of his past KBO experience and their expectation will be that he settles in as an at worst mid-level starter.
The above is a worst-case scenario, in actuality, the Heroes are hopeful Brigham carries his success from the CPBL with him and pitches at a level that will move them up the standings. Signing a pitcher with Brigham’s proven track record could certainly do that. The Heroes are getting themselves a good pitcher with the ability to immediately help them. Brigham is getting a chance to show that his CPBL success was very real. This is a win-win for all parties involved, well, except for the poor Dragons.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – CPBL Stats