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CPBL Update, June 07 to June 13: Is this winning?

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

Rakuten Monkeys v Uni-President Lions - CPBL
Yung-Chi Chen
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!

Standings

June 07 (13-23)

CTBC Brothers 9, Uni-Lions 8 (BOX)

Another close loss for the Uni-Lions. After having the lead for the majority of the game, reliever Chun-Yen Huang blew the game, allowing four runs in the eighth inning. The Lions initially took the lead in the first, scoring a run, but really jumped ahead in the third, when they plated five more. Just as quickly as the 6-0 lead came, it disappeared, as the Brothers scored five runs of their own in the bottom of the third, making it a 6-5 game. Catcher Chung-Yu Chen gave the Lions a little more breathing room with a solo homer in the eighth, but reliever Chun-Yen Huang let things get out of control in the bottom of the inning. An-Ko Lin hit a solo homer of his own in the ninth to bring the Lions within one, but they ended up unable to get over that hurdle.

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 3-4, R, BB
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 0-0
  • DH Chieh-Jui Wu (#62): 2-5, R
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 1-5, R, 2 K
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 3-4, 2 R, HR (9), 2 RBI, BB
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 2-4, R, 2 K
  • PH Wu-Hsiung Pan (#55): 0-1
  • 1B Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 0-3, RBI, BB, 2 K
  • PH Chih-Wei Teng (#25): 0-1, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 1-4, R, 3 RBI, K
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 1-4, R, HR (2), 2 RBI, 2 K
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 1-4
  • LHP Logan Darnell (#75): 6.2 IP, 13 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Chun-Jen Cheng (#60): 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, H (6)
  • RHP Chun-Yen Huang (#40): 0.1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Yun-Wen Chen (#12): 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K

June 08 (13-23)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

June 09 (14-23)

Uni-Lions 7, Rakuten Monkeys 6 (BOX)

The bullpen has been shaky for much of the year, and things looked a little hairy towards the later innings, but the Lions triumphed over the Monkeys, winning a one-run ballgame for a change. No home runs were hit, but the offense kept piling on, plating runs in the fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth.

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 2-5, R
  • DH Chieh-Jui Wu (#62): 2-5, 2 R, RBI, 2 K
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 2-4, 2 R, RBI
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 3-4, R, 2 RBI, BB
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 0-3, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K
  • 1B Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 0-2, BB, K
  • PH-1B Chih-Wei Teng (#25): 0-2, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 1-4, R, RBI, E (4)
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 1-4, K
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 1-5, K
  • LHP Chen-Yen Chiang (#16): 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Yu-Kang Fu (#42): 1.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, H (2)
  • LHP Heng-Hsiao Kuo (#21): 0.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, H (1)
  • RHP Wei-Chih Lin (#43): 0.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, H (1)
  • RHP Chun-Jen Cheng (#60): 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, H (7)
  • RHP Yun-Wen Chen (#12): 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, S (5)

June 10 (15-23)

Uni-Lions 11, Rakuten Monkeys 2 (BOX)

The Lions won their second game in a row, the first time in weeks they managed such a simple feat. Unlike many of the games they’ve had lately, this one was decidedly a Lions win, with the offense showing up and the pitching strong.

  • CF-LF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 1-4, R, 2 RBI, BB
  • DH Chieh-Jui Wu (#62): 2-4, R, 2 RBI, K, SB (2)
  • PH-DH Wu-Hsiung Pan (#55): 0-1
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 1-4, R, BB, K
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 3-4, R, HR (3), RBI, BB, K, SB (2)
  • PR-3B Chung-Ting Chen (#66): 0-0
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 0-5, R, 2 K
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 0-0
  • 1B Fu-Lin Kuo (#5): 2-4, R, RBI, 2 K
  • PH-1B Chih-Wei Teng (#25): 1-1, R, HR (4), 3 RBI
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 2-5, 2 R, HR (3), 2 RBI, 2 K
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 2-3, R
  • 2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 0-3, R, K
  • RHP Tzu-Chien Shih (#45): 7.0 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (4-3)
  • RHP Cheng-Feng Chiang (#90): 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Chun-Yen Huang (#40): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

June 11 (15-23)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

June 12 (16-23)

Uni-Lions 10, Fubon Guardians 4 (BOX)

Knuckleballer Ryan Feierabend gave up one run in the top of the first and three more in the top of the second, immediately putting the Lions in a fairly big hole, but the team climbed out of it in the bottom of the inning, putting up a four spot and taking the lead powered by home runs by Chih-Chieh Su and Yung-Chi Chen. They continued putting on the pressure, scoring three more runs in the third and two more in the fourth, building up a fairly large lead and would hold. With the win, that makes three in a row that the Lions have won, the first time this season they’ve strung together such a modest amount of wins.

  • CF Chieh-Hsien Chen (#24): 1-3, RBI, BB
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 0-0
  • 1B Chieh-Jui Wu (#62): 2-4, R, BB
  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 1-5, R, K
  • 3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 3-4, 2 R, HR (6), 3 RBI, BB, K, E
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 3-4, 3 R, HR (14), RBI, BB
  • DH Wu-Hsiung Pan (#55): 1-4, R, HR (3), 3 RBI, BB, K
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 1-5, R, RBI
  • C Chung-Yu Chen (#65): 1-4, R
  • PH-C Yu-Le Lin (#31): 0-1
  • 2B Chung-Ting Chen (#66): 2-4, RBI
  • RHP Ryan Feierabend (#54): 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, W (2-3)
  • RHP Yu-Kang Fu (#42): 1.0, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Chun-Jen Cheng (#60): 1.0, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Cheng-Feng Chiang (#90: 1.0, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

June 13 (17-23)

Uni-Lions 3, Fubon Guardians 2 (BOX)

The Lions extended their winning streak to four games, the first time they’ve won as many in a row since mid-May of 2019. Even more exciting than the streak is how they won, coming from behind to beat the Guardians. Henry Sosa and Josh Roenicke traded zeroes early on, allowing plenty of baserunners but preventing runs from crossing home. The Guardians finally got on the board in the fifth, when Fubon catcher Yu-Ying Lin drove in a pair with an RBI double. The Lions finally scored a run a few innings later, driving in a run off of reliever Shu-Chen Ou in the seventh, and then took the lead when they plated a pair off of Yi-Hao Lin in the eighth. Yun-Wen Chen pitched the ninth and worked around a walk, earning his sixth save of the season.

Of note, in a story taking place off the field, Fu-Kuo Lin was involved in a DWI incident and was demoted to the Uni-Lions’ farm team for the time being. The league has suspended him for two games and fined him $1,000.

  • RF An-Ko Lin (#77): 1-2, R, 3 BB, K
  • 1B Chieh-Jui Wu (#62): 0-3, K
  • PR-2B Ching-Kai Lin (#64): 0-0
  • LF Chih-Chieh Su (#32): 2-4, K
  • 3B-1B-3B Yung-Chi Chen (#13): 0-4, 2 K
  • DH Wu-Hsiung Pan (#55): 0-2, 2 BB
  • PR-DH Liang-Wei Chiang (#27): 0-0, R
  • SS Tzu-Chieh Lin (#39): 1-3, R, BB, K
  • CF Chao-Ting Tang (#6): 1-4, RBI, K
  • 2B-3B Chung-Ting Chen (#66): 0-2, BB, SB (2)
  • PH-1B Chih-Wei Teng (#25): 1-1, RBI
  • C Yu-Le Lin (#31): 0-4
  • RHP Josh Roenicke (#30): 7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
  • RHP Chun-Yen Huang (#40): 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, W (1-2)
  • RHP Yun-Wen Chen (#12): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, S (6)

HITTER OF THE WEEK

Yung-Chi Chen

11-20, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, 1/1 SB

Yung-Chi Chen was born in Chenggong, Taiwan, on July 13, 1983. A member of the Amis aboriginal people, his name is Mayaw Ciro in the Amis language. He attended Gao-Yuan Commercial Industrial Vocational School for high school, and after graduation, went on to attend the National Taiwan University of Sport. While in college, he was scouted by the Seattle Mariners, who were impressed by his performance domestically and internationally, where he was a solid contributor as the youngest member of the on the Taiwanese National Team in the 2004 Olympics. They eventually signed him in 2004 for $250,000, assigning him to their Short-A affiliate, the Everett Aquasox, where he hit .300/.353/.420 with 3 home runs and 25 stolen bases in 28 attempts. The infielder followed that up with a .292/.339/.416 performance in 2005, hitting 7 homers and stealing 15 bases in 21 attempts. In 2006, following a impressive performance in the World Baseball Classic, Chen combined to hit .324/.380/.468 with 8 homers and 26 stolen bases in 36 attempts for the Mariners’ High-A and Double-A affiliates, firmly putting himself on the map as one of the Mariners’ top prospects. In 2007, he sustained a shoulder injury, causing him to miss the majority of the season. Though he performed well in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the 2007 season, his numbers fell off a cliff in 2008, hitting .249/.309/.329 with 3 home runs and 9 stolen bases in 11 attempts for the Tacoma Rainiers, Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate.

A combination of his poor performance combined with strong years from other Mariners led to him being dropped from their 40-man roster, and their future plans. He was put on waivers and claimed by the Oakland As in November 2008. His time in the Oakland system was not particularly fruitful, as he was unable to get much playing time and struggled when he was able to get on the field. Oakland released him mid-season in 2010 and he was picked up by the Pittsburgh Pirates. His time there was equally fruitless and after the season ended, he returned to Taiwan, where he entered the CPBL draft and was selected by the Uni-President Lions with their first pick. He has been a mainstay on the team since, and over the last decade has hit .307/.369/.466 in 905 games, slugging 107 home runs and stealing 95 bases in 113 attempts.

Chen’s best tool is his bat and his ability to hit for contact. He is generally a tough out, working the count and waiting for his pitches. His power potential was below-average when playing organized ball in the U.S., but it is closer to average in Taiwan. His whippy stroke generates solid gap power that he uses to spray the ball all around the field. Earlier in his career, Chen possessed above-average speed and was a baserunning threat, but age and knee problems have taken their toll. He is an experienced base stealer and picks and chooses his spots now, rather than running with reckless abandon. Defensively, he can play second base, third base, and shortstop, but profiles best at third because, while his arm is average, his defensive footwork around the keystone was always rushed and suspect.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Josh Roenicke

7.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Roenicke comes from a family of athletes, as has father, Gary, played professionally for 12 seasons, his uncle, Ron, played professionally for 8 seasons and later managed, and his brother, Jason, played for a time in the minors. Josh was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 10th round of the 2006 Draft out of UCLA. A gifted athlete, he played both football and baseball, playing as a defensive back and kick returner on the gridiron and an outfielder and relief pitcher on the diamond. All in all, he hit .262/.317/.323 with 1 home run and 3 stolen bases in 6 attempts in his 121 games with the Bruins and posted a 2.98 ERA over 15.1 total innings, allowing 14 hits, walking 9, and striking out 14. Pitching primarily as a reliever, he posted satisfactory numbers and quickly climbed up the Reds’ minor league ladder, making his professional debut in September 2008. He stayed with the major league club and pitched well in 2009, leading to the Reds packaging him along with Scott Rolen and cash considerations to be traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Edwin Encarnación and Zach Stewart. The move to the American League did not suit the right-hander, as he posted a 6.38 ERA in 36.2 total innings with them, leading to him being exposed to waivers. He would spend the next few years bouncing around from team to team, getting picked up by and signing with the Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, Washington Nationals, the Colorado Rockies again, Milwaukee Brewers, and the Los Angeles Angels. He split most of this time between the minors and the majors, though he did have a solid stretch of success from 2011 to 2013, posting a 3.71 ERA in 145 relief appearances for Colorado and Minnesota.

He began playing internationally in 2017, when he signed with the Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League. A Mexican League All-Star that helped pitch the Pericos to their second-consecutive championship, Roenicke posted a 2.70 ERA in 120.0 innings, pitching exclusively as a starter, allowing 129 hits, walking 28, and striking out 103. His performance there led the Uni-President Lions to seek him out, and he signed with them for the 2018 season. In 26 starts, he posted a league-leading 3.17 ERA over 156.0 innings, allowing 162 hits, walking 27, and striking out 138. The Lions re-signed him for the 2019 season and the right-hander was once again one of the better pitchers in the league, posting a 3.50 ERA over 105.1 innings, allowing 95 hits, walking 28, and striking out 87. He re-signed with them for a third year and is currently scuffling, with a 7.71 ERA in 32.2 innings, allowing 49 hits, walking 7, and striking out 17. He left Taiwan halfway through spring training in mid-March to attend the birth of his fourth child, and has yet to hit his stride since returning because of missing that time and his mandatory quarantine upon his return.

The right-hander throws from a high-three-quarters arm slot with a long action in the back, dropping down and driving off the mound, lowering his release point. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, topping out at roughly 95 MPH. His slider is his best secondary pitch, his go-to strikeout pitch, sitting in the low-to-mid-80s with plenty of horizontal movement. In addition, he throws a curveball that sits in the mid-to-high-70s and a changeup that sits in the mid-80s.

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)

May 17 to May 23: Chih-Chieh Su (3-6, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1/1 SB)

May 24 to May 30: Chieh-Hsien Chen (10-17, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/0 SB)

May 31 to June 6: Chieh-Hsien Chen (11-18, 0 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 13 RBI, 3 BB, 4 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)

May 17 to May 23: RHP Wei-Chih Lin (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K)

May 24 to May 30: RHP Ryan Fierabend (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)

May 31 to June 6: Chen-Yen Chiang (7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR)