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CPBL Update: May 10 to May 16

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We check in on our adopted CPBL team, the Uni-President Lions.

Rakuten Monkeys v Uni-Lions - CPBL
An-Ko Lin
Photo by Gene Wang/Getty Images

As regular From Complex to Queens listeners know, we’ve decided to start following a CPBL team in the absence of Mets baseball for the foreseeable future. We picked a team and will post updates on how they’re doing over in Taiwan. Why the Uni-President Lions?

  • Tainan City, home of the Lions, is one of the oldest and largest cities in Taiwan
  • Tainan Municipal Baseball Stadium is directly under the flight path of airplanes flying in and out of the nearby Tainan Airport.
  • The team has talent and looks good on paper but has been thwarted time and time again in the last few years by poor on-the-field field management and front office executive decisions.
  • Employed in their organization at one time or another former player and SNY analyst Nelson Figueroa, Columbia Fireflies pitching coach Jerome Williams, former manager Mickey Callaway, and Generation K member Bill Pulsipher.

Sounds like the Mets to me!

May 10 (8-13)

Uni-President Lions 10, Fubon Guardians 2 (BOX)

Tzu-Chien Shih gave up two runs in the first but ended up settling down and putting up zeroes for the rest of his time on the mound. The Lions had had his back and got those runs back and then some in the top of the second, making it a 3-2 game early. The offense came alive again in the fifth, scoring five more runs, and

  • LF Chih-Cheng Chiu (#14): 1-4, R, 2 RBI, K
  • LF Liang-Wei Chiang (#27): 0-0
  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 1-4, R, RBI
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 0-0, BB
  • 1B Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 1-4, R
  • 1B Kuo-Ching Kao (#68): 1-1
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 4-4, 3 R, HR (7), 2 RBI, BB
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 2-5, R, 2 RBI, 2 K
  • DH Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 1-4, R, RBI, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 2-5, R
  • C Chun-Wei Kuo (#15): 1-4, RBI
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 3-3, R, RBI, BB
  • RHP Tzu-Chien Shih (#45): 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, HR, W (3-1)
  • RHP Hsuan-Ta Liu (#23): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Yu-Ching Lin (#10): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Yu-Kang Fu (#42): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

May 11 (8-13)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

May 12 (8-14)

Rakuten Monkeys 17, Uni-President Lions 10 (BOX)

The Lions have scored 20 runs in their last two games but pitching let them down in this one. Rakuten scored early and often, and the Lions offense just wasn’t able to keep up with them. Donn Roach threw another clunker, and while the right-hander has occasionally shown glimpses of being able to get outs at a high level, as evidenced by his performance with the AAA-Charlotte in 2018, he has yet to really acclimate himself to pitching in Asia, as his time in the NPB, KBO, and now CPBL hasn’t exactly gone swimmingly.

  • LF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 3-6, 1 R, 1 K
  • DH Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 3-6, 3 R, HR (5), 2 RBI
  • 1B-3B Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 1-5, R, RBI, BB
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 3-3 2 R, RBI
  • PH Liang-Wei Chiang (#27): 0-1, K
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 2-3, R, K, E (1)
  • PH-1B Kuo-Ching Kao (#68): 2-3, 3 RBI
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 1-4, BB
  • C Chun-Wei Kuo (#15): 0-2, 2 K
  • PH-C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 1-3, RBI, K
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 1-4, R, RBI, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 0-2
  • PH Chih-Cheng Chiu (#14): 0-0, BB
  • SS Yi-Hsuan Tsai (#38): 1-2, R
  • RHP Donn Roach (#50): 2.2 IP, 6 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, L (1-4)
  • RHP Hsuan-Ta Liu (#23): 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Hang Lin (#48): 1.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Chun-Yen Huang (#40): 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Yu-Ching Lin (#10): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, HR
  • RHP Chun-Jen Cheng (#60): 1.0 IP, 2 R, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, HR

May 13 (9-14)

Uni-President Lions 15, Rakuten Monkeys 11 (BOX)

Three games in a row with ten or more runs. Rakuten took the lead in the top of the third, plating a run off of Chen-Yen Chiang, but the Lions put up a five spot in the bottom of the inning. And then another one in the bottom of the fourth. And then another one in the bottom of the fifth. Justin Nicolino, the former Marlins pitcher, got absolutely destroyed. The Monkeys didn’t roll over and die and kept pace throughout the game, scoring five runs of their own in the fourth and four more in the fifth. In the end, the two teams combined for 31 hits in total, but the Lions’ hits were simply more impactful. Of note, Yung-Chi Chen’s home run was one for the record books. The grand slam marked 18 straight games in which someone one the team hit a home run. The Rakuten Monkeys are the top team in the CPBL currently by a large margin, with a 15-5 record. Of those five losses, three of them were handed to them by our Uni-President Lions

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 2-4, 2 R, RBI, BB, SB (3, 4)
  • RF Liang-Wei Chiang (#27): 0-0
  • DH Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 1-4, 2 R
  • PH-DH Chih-Cheng Chiu (#14): 0-1
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 3-5, 3 R, K
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, 3 K
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 0-0
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 3-5, 3 R, HR (4), 7 RBI; Chen is one of Taiwan’s indigenous Amis people, and his non-Sinicized name is Mayaw Ciro
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 2-4, 2 R, BB, 3 SB (2, 3, 4)
  • 1B Kuo-Ching Kao (#68): 2-5, RBI, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 1-5, 2 RBI
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 0-5, R, 2 K
  • LHP Chen-Yen Chiang (#16): 5.0 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, W (2-2)
  • RHP Yu-Kang Fu (#42): 0.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K; His nickname is “Mantou” because his pudgy face resembles the steamed bun commonly eaten in Taiwan for breakfast
  • RHP Chun-Yen Huang (#40): 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Chun-Jen Cheng (#60): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Yun-Wen Chen (#12): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

May 14 (9-14)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

May 15 (10-14)

Uni-President Lions 2, CTBC Brothers 1 (BOX)

In probably the best pitched CPBL game this season, the Lions beat the Brothers 2-1, finally bringing them to the double-digit win plateau. It was an atypical game all around, as both Lions starter Ryan Feierabend and Brothers starter Ariel Miranda had excellent starts and the eight starters who began the game for the Lions remained in it for all nine innings. Both Lions runs came in the bottom of the first, on a Fu-Lin Kuo homer. Feierabend had a hiccup in the fifth that allowed a run to score, but otherwise had his knuckler knuckling, earning his first win of 2020.

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 2-4, R
  • DH Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 1-3, R, HR (7), 2 RBI, BB, K
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 0-4, 2 K
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 1-4, 2 K
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 1-4, 2 K
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 1-3, BB, K, E (1)
  • 1B Kuo-Ching Kao (#68): 1-3
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 0-3, K
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 1-3
  • RHP Ryan Feierabend: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, W (1-2)
  • RHP Chun-Yen Huang: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, H (2)
  • RHP Chun-Jen Cheng: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, H (3), E (1)
  • RHP Yun-Wen Chun: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, S (2)

May 16 (10-15)

CTBC Brothers 9, Uni-President Lions 2 (BOX)

Starter Josh Roenicke didn’t really have his best stuff, allowing five runs on eight hits over five innings, but a leaky bullpen made things worse. Fighting back from a five-run deficit would have been within reason had the pen held things together; fighting back from a nine-run deficit is a lot more difficult. The fact that Brothers starter José De Paula was incredible didn’t help, either. The right-hander allowed just one run and scattered four hits over seven innings, striking out twelve. Ching-Kai Lin hit a homer off of him, his first, in the third, and Chih-Chieh Su drove in a run off Brothers reliever Chun-Wei Wu, but that was it for the evening.

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 1-3, E (1)
  • PH-CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 0-0, R, BB
  • 3B Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 0-3, 3 K
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 1-4, RBI, 2 K
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 0-4
  • DH Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 0-3, 2 K
  • PH Wu-Hsiung Pan (#55): 0-1
  • 1B Chieh-Jui Wu (#62): 1-4, 2 K
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 1-3, K, SB (4)
  • C Chun-Wei Kuo (#15): 0-1, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 0-3, 3 K
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 1-3, R, HR (1), RBI; With this home run, the team home run streak has now reached 20
  • RHP Josh Roenicke (#30): 5.0, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, HR, L (0-2)
  • RHP Hsuan-Ta Lin (#23): 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Hang Lin (#48): 1.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Yu-Ching Lin (#10): 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Yu-Kang Fu (#42): 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

HITTER OF THE WEEK

An-Ko Lin

9-23, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB

The son of an Argentinian mother and Taiwanese father, An-Ko Lin was the Uni-Lions’ first round draft selection in the 2019 CPBL Draft. The star of various little league, secondary school, and national youth teams, scouts from not only CPBL teams, but KBO, NPB, and even MLB teams were regulars in the stands when he was on the mound. Mowing batters down with a golden left arm that could reach as high as 92 MPH and complemented by a solid changeup and slider, the southpaw was on an upward trajectory until 2017, when overuse from coaches led to a strained arm that caused a precipitous drop in his fastball velocity. He did not pitch much in 2018, mainly taking the field as an outfielder, and eventually opted to have surgery that year to remove bone spurs in his arm.

In 2019, the Uni-Lions signed Lin for a $177,000 signing bonus. He was immediately assigned to the team and appeared in 29 games, hitting .255/.336/.377 in 121 plate appearances with 2 homers, 12 walks, and 30 strikeouts. Having requested that he be used as a two-way player for the 2020 season, the Lions gave Lin a chance to show off his talents, but the results were not exactly there. During his try-out on the mound against the Rakuten Monkeys, he needed 55 pitches to get through two innings, walked five batters, and only was able to get his fastball as high as 85 MPH.

He made the team instead as their everyday right fielder, and because the team needed his bat, it was a decision that benefitted both parties; Lin would get to play everyday and the Lions would fill their need for a big bopper. Through 25 games, the 23-year-old is hitting .370/.439/.717 with 7 home runs. His batting average is fourth in the league at the time of this writing among hitters who have appeared in 10 or more games this season, his OBP tenth, and his slugging percentage fifth. With idols like Madison Bumgarner and Shohei Otani, it is apparent that while Lin is an excellent hitter, he still considers himself a pitcher first and wants to get back on the mount and eventually become a true two-way player. He dreams of playing in America as well, so his is a name we should remember.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Ryan Feierabend

6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K

Feierabend is already atypical in that he throws a knuckleball, but what makes him even more unique is that he is a left-handed knuckleball pitcher. There are very few pitchers to have made the pitch their primary pitch in the annals of baseball history- roughly around 100 in the 117 Major League Baseball has existed- but there are even fewer southpaws do to it; including Feierabend, roughly 20 are known to have pitched in the majors.

In Mandarin, the knuckleball is represented by the characters (蝴蝶球), which means “Butterfly Pitch”. Interestingly, Taiwan is known to have over 400 species of butterflies and the highest concentration of butterfly species anywhere else in the world because of its geography, location, and isolation. The island is sometimes informally referred to as the “Butterfly Kingdom” as a result. In the past, butterflies were one of Taiwan’s largest exports, netting the island country roughly $30 per year. The once thriving industry has since diminished since, a result of sanctions put in place to protect the many species, and a dwindling habitat due to human activity. Likewise, the knuckleball is vanishing; outside of Feierabend, Steven Wright is the only professional pitcher in a major league to throw the pitch.

HITTER OF THE WEEK

May 3 to May 9: Fu-Lin Kuo (10-22, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 SB)

May 10 to May 16: An-Ko Lin (9-23, 3 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB)

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

May 3 to May 9: Ryan Feierabend (5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, HR)

May 10 to May 16: Ryan Feierabend: (6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)