Zerillo’s Wednesday CPBL Betting Odds and Picks: Rakuten Monkeys vs. Uni-President Lions (April 15)
Gene Wang/Getty Images. Pictured: Chieh Hsien Chen
The CPBL, the only professional baseball league currently playing games, is back in action on Wednesday with two games — a pair of 6:35 a.m. ET showdowns, one between the Fubon Guardians and Chinatrust Brothers, and another between the Uni-President Lions and Rakuten Monkeys.
Below are the odds, projections, and my picks for the games.
Fubon Guardians vs. Chinatrust Brothers Betting Odds
Guardians odds: -150
Brothers odds: +120
First pitch: 6:35 a.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Chen Shih-Peng (Fubon) vs. Huang En-Sih (Chinatrust)
The Guardians and Brothers played a tight 3-2 affair on Tuesday, with both starting pitchers throwing seven solid innings.
- Henry Sosa (Fubon): 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K
- Jose DePaula (Chinatrust): 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K
However, Sosa is already one of the most dominant starters in the CPBL after posting a 2.95 FIP and 2.32 DIPS ERA in 2019.
While Chen Shih-Peng is one of the more effective domestic starters and looks primed to improve at a young age (won’t turn 23 until September), its still a substantial dropoff in quality from Fubon’s foreign arms like Sosa, Mike Loree (3.43 FIP, 2.76 DIPS ERA), and Ryan Bollinger (3.65 FIP, 3.01 DIPS ERA) to Peng (4.52 FIP, 3.89 DIPS ERA).
The southpaw is typically dominant in the first inning, before tailing off after, but he did manage to find more consistency down the stretch last season, en route to being named as the CPBL’s most improved player.
Peng’s fastball sits between 85-88 mph, but he’s not afraid to throw the pitch up in the zone, and he also appears to mix in a curveball (68-72 mph) and changeup (76 mph) as his secondary offerings.
From the limited video, I had some difficulty telling whether he also owns a cutter/slider type pitch or whether he just modifies the speed on his fastball, and the pitch also has some natural cut.
Though Peng sported a 3.48 ERA in 2019, the number is mostly misleading compared to a 1.50 WHIP, subpar 13.4% strikeout rate (league average 17.9%), and average 6.45% walk rate (league average 7.15), and was mostly the result of a 75% strand rate (league average 66.7%).
He’s an effective pitcher who stands to improve with age – but he’s also not a world-beater like his rotation-mates (relatively speaking, of course).
Furthermore, the Guardians used their two best relievers on Tuesday, in Chen Hung-Wen and Lin Yi-Hao, their only two relievers with sub 3.50 FIP marks in 2019, so they might have difficulty holding the Brothers to two runs again.
Chinatrust will send out 23-year-old Huang En-Sih, who pitched just 68 innings over 14 starts in 2019 – one year removed from Tommy John Surgery. He didn’t necessarily improve as the season went along, either, and got destroyed by lefties (.358 average, 15 BB, 20 K in 154 PA).
Sih throws a fastball (90-93 mph) in addition to a forkball (81 mph) and what looks like an occasional curveball (78 mph):
It generally takes two years to recover from Tommy John Surgery fully, and this righty has some pretty solid stuff compared to his peers. With good health, he could be on the cusp of a breakout season.
I essentially have this game lined as a pick’em, and I played the Brothers at +125 (implied 44.4%), a 5.1% edge compared to my projection (49.5%, or +102). I would play that down to +115, a 3% edge.
Additionally, I projected the total at 12.25 runs, compared to the listed total of 10.5, a 3.76% edge on the Over at -115 – the highest juice I would play that number at. I bet a half-unit share on Over 10.5 at -106, a 5.69% edge.
Uni-President Lions vs. Rakuten Monkeys Betting Odds
Guardians odds: +160
Brothers odds: -200
First pitch: 6:35 a.m. ET
Probable Pitchers: Pan-Wei Lun (Uni-President) vs. Ryan Carpenter (Rakuten)
The three-time defending CPBL champion Monkeys will make their 2020 debut on Wednesday – and perhaps their presence is the jumpstart we need to wake up the offenses in this barn-burning league.
On the mound, they’ll send out the man who was slated to take the ball on opening day – former Detroit Tiger Ryan Carpenter, against Pan-Wei Lun for the Uni-President Lions.
To rehash what I said earlier this week about Carpenter, the southpaw averaged a strikeout per inning with a 3.41 K/BB ratio over four seasons in Triple-A while displaying similarly solid command in the low minors.
He was shelled over 15 appearances at the big league level (63 IP, 8.57 ERA) the past two seasons, but did show that he has a diverse, five-pitch arsenal where he doesn’t lean on any-one offering:
- Slider (28.3%)
- Four-Seam (22.8%)
- Sinker (22.3%)
- Changeup (14.6%)
- Curve (12%)
And that slider returned a positive pitch value in 2019 – so he has at least one weapon to offer:
However, the Monkeys bullpen is an absolute horror show. Their offense is regularly capable of putting up double-digit runs on the scoreboard. Still, even the largest lead may not be safe with a bullpen that averaged a 5.42 FIP and 4.52 DIPS ERA in 2019 – the only bullpen better than the CPBL-worst Lions (6.37 FIP, 5.41 DIPS ERA).
To counter Carpenter, Uni-President will send out their best domestic pitcher, Pan-Wei Lun, who has pitched for the Lions since 2003 and is the CPBL’s all-time wins leader.
This is an old video from the 2013 WBC, but you can see Lun’s toughness – battling without his best stuff to keep his team – even down three runs – in the game:
He appears to throw a variety of offerings (fastball, cutter, slider, curveball, changeup/forkball) without topping 85-87 mph. Still, he also hasn’t been fully healthy much since the middle of his career, and his skills have deteriorated over time.
He’s a pitcher with easy mechanics, good command, and a robust and calming mound presence. His demeanor doesn’t change much, whether high or low:
That said, his inability to generate strikeout is a significant concern – Lun’s career strikeout rate of 5.1 K/9 is small, but his mark of 3.9 K/9 in 2019 is even more troubling, leaving him at the mercy of his defense.
The Brothers have one of the better defensive units in the CPBL, but this is still a league where an extra three percent of balls in play turn into hits, as compared with the major leagues. So every additional ball in play has a more significant impact than it would at the MLB level.
I don’t see any value on the moneyline, but I do see value on the Over 9.5 – especially when you consider that the opening day total was listed at 12.5 for a game between Chinatrust and Rakuten with Carpenter listed against Esmil Rogers.
Rogers is a better pitcher than Lun, yet this total is THREE runs lower – with Uni-President’s horrific bullpen against Rakuten’s potent offense.
I played an 11.8% edge on Over 9.5 at odds of -112, compared to my projected total at 12.85, and I would play that total up to Over 10 (-120).
CPBL Bets for April 15
- Chinatrust Brothers (+125, 1 unit)
- Over 10.5 (-106), Fubon vs. Chinatrust (0.5 units)
- Over 9.5 (-112), Uni-President vs. Rakuten (1 unit)
CPBL Year to Date: 1-0 (+1 Unit)