They set out to redeem their reputation, only to have it tarnished further. This was the case for the South Korean national baseball team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). After failing to make it out of the preliminary round in each of the previous two editions of the tournament, the team headed into the tournament with the goal of making it to the quarterfinals.
It wasn’t just one or two problems, but it was a lack of competitiveness on the mound. With the KBO’s top pitcher, Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom), ultimately unable to participate in the tournament, the Koreans brought out all of their homegrown aces, only to find that they were limited. Japan, on the other hand, rode the strength of their mound to victory and the title.
The next WBC will be held in 2026. For Korea, it’s important to finalize the generation change as soon as possible and build the strongest team possible. But on the mound, there are glimpses of possible reinforcements that we may not have considered until now. Dane Dunning (29, Texas) is still a long way off from his prime.
The WBC looks at pedigree rather than nationality. A player can play for the national team regardless of nationality as long as they have blood from either their father or mother. Dunning, who is American, has a Korean mother. Therefore, he is eligible to play for the South Korean national team. In fact, the KBO reportedly approached Dunning about playing in the 2023 tournament. Dunning reportedly responded positively.
However, it didn’t lead to an offer. Dunning underwent hip surgery at the end of last season. He needed time to fully rehabilitate, which made it difficult for him to participate in the WBC. Even if he did, there was a good chance that his team, Texas, would have objected, citing his history of surgery.
However, Dunning is in the prime of his career this year. In 28 games this year (20 starts), he has pitched 136⅔ innings, going 9-6 with a 3.36 ERA. He didn’t start the year as a starter, but when Jacob deGrom, one of the league’s best pitchers, went down with an injury, Dunning stepped into the role as a temporary starter and performed well, cementing his status as the “deGrom replacement”.
With DeGrom out for good after undergoing surgery, Dunning has been a steady presence in the starting rotation and has put up good numbers. Whereas last year he tended to take his chances with the best of them on a ‘rebuilding team’, this year he has earned his spot with undeniable performance. It’s clear that this will be the best season of his career. He is one win away from his first 10 wins of his career.
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, also named Dunning as one of the dark horse candidates for this year’s Pitching All-Star team on Monday. “After starting the season in the bullpen, Dunning joined the rotation in May after Jacob deGrom went down with an elbow injury, and he has consistently provided valuable innings, posting a 3.64 ERA in 20 starts for Texas,” MLB.com wrote. He hasn’t always been a strikeout guy, but as of late, he’s been striking out more, which is a significant change.먹튀검증
Of course, there’s still a long way to go until 2026 to find out if he’ll be called up, but Dunning will be 32 years old in 2026 and in the prime of his career. Considering the way he’s been pitching this year, he could still be in his prime for another three or four years. He’s a resource that can help the national team in any way. South Korea has already opened the door for Tommy Edmon to make the team. If Dunning continues to perform well, there’s no reason not to pick him.