CPBL Betting Picks: Fubon Guardians vs. Rakuten Monkeys, Chinatrust Brothers vs. Uni-President Lions (April 12)
Gene Wang/Getty Images. Pictured: Jen Hsieh-chi
After a rainout on Saturday, we’re back for day two of the CPBL, with all four teams in action for the first time. And we have a pair of tremendous pitching matchups (relatively speaking, of course) set up for Sunday morning.
However, we’re not exactly sure who two of those starters will be after the opening day postponement – as Elih Villanueva and Ariel Miranda are scheduled for the Rakuten Monkeys and Chinatrust Brothers respectively, but could get replaced by anticipated opening day starters Ryan Carpenter or Esmil Rogers.
Therefore, we’ll take a look at both matchups projections based upon the alternative possibilities.
What we do know: the most dominant arm in the CPBL, Henry Sosa, will return for the Fubon Guardians after his stint in the KBO, and Uni-President Lions supporters will get their first look at Ryan Feierabend’s knuckleball.
Fubon Guardians at Rakuten Monkeys Betting Picks
- Probable Pitchers: Henry Sosa (Guardians) vs. Elih Villanueva or Ryan Carpenter (Monkeys)
- Listed Odds: Guardians (+128) / Monkeys (-160)
- Listed Total: 11.5
- Time: 5:05 a.m. ET
The Guardians have the best starting staff in the CPBL, led by Mike Loree – who has won the Pitching Triple Crown twice during his eight-year stint in Taiwan.
The righty surpassed 1,000 career CPBL innings in 2019 and continued to dominate, leading the league in ERA (2.78), WHIP (1.00), and WAR (4.99), but he wasn’t even the best pitcher on his team.
Former Houston Astro Henry Sosa only made 12 starts (86.2 IP) for the Guardians in 2019, but he was so good that SK Wyverns in Korea signed him in early June for the remainder of the season.
Here’s how Sosa’s 2019 metrics compared to his teammate, Loree – who is considered to be the Jacob deGrom of the CPBL:
- Sosa: 1.56 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 23% K-BB%, 2.95 FIP, 2.32 DIPS ERA, 168 ERA+
- Loree: 2.78 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 20% K-BB%, 3.43 FIP, 2.76 DIPS ERA, 144 ERA+
In other words, Sosa was 68% better than your average CPBL pitcher, while Loree was 44% better than average.
Amongst pitchers who threw at least 49 innings in 2019, the Guardians had the top four pitchers by ERA+ in closer C.C Lee (175 ERA+), Sosa, Loree, and reliever Chen Hung-Wen (166 ERA+).
Sosa continued his success after moving back to the KBO, where he has pitched for eight seasons, averaging more than a strikeout per inning with a 4.12 strikeout to walk rate.
He owns a fastball that touches the upper 90’s, which he likes to throw high in the zone, paired with a sharp slider and an occasional changeup:
Today's MVP is LG's Henry Sosa. Here's his 14 strikeouts along with his 98 mph last pitch to get the final fly out pic.twitter.com/VsoBbmWbeC
— Dan Kurtz (@MyKBO) May 24, 2018
As for Rakuten’s pitcher, I previously covered Ryan Carpenter, but I grade originally scheduled starter Elih Villanueva, who pitched for Chinatrust Brothers for the past two seasons, as a slightly better pitcher.
Villanueva struggled throughout much of 2018, but did toss a no-hitter against his current team – and found a groove in 2019 while showing improved command – as his strikeout to walk rate climbed from 2.57 to 3.96.
Elih Villanueva （紐維拉）will be #CTBros starting pitcher for Game 1 of the #TaiwanSeries . Will the most recent pitcher of the month continue his amazing form tomorrow?#CPBL30 #Review pic.twitter.com/5mVlI8Eitv
— CPBL 中華職棒 (@CPBL) October 11, 2019
If Villanueva starts, I have the game right around a pick’em, with a small lean-to the Guardians. If Carpenter debuts for Rakuten, their chances decrease by 3.5%.
Either way, I see an edge in backing Sosa and the Guardians on Sunday.
Compared to the current +128 moneyline (implied 43.9%), that’s a 6.6% edge if Villanueva starts, and a 10.1% edge if Carpenter starts.
I would bet Sosa and the Fubon Guardians down to +115 against Villanueva, or even money against Carpenter.
If Villanueva pitches, I would lean to the under at 11.5 (-105), a 2% betting edge, and wouldn’t go past under 11.5 (-110).
Uni-President Lions at Chinatrust Brothers Betting Picks
- Probable Pitchers: Ryan Feierabend (Lions) vs. Ariel Miranda or Esmil Rogers (Chinatrust)
- Listed Odds: Lions (+112) / Brothers (-140)
- Listed Total: 11.5
- Time: 5:05 a.m. ET
After Saturday’s rainout, we don’t know if Esmil Rogers or Ariel Miranda will pitch for Chinatrust, but I already previewed the former.
I only provided one projection for this game, however, because I don’t see much between the two Chinatrust pitchers in terms of quality. On paper, they’re equally valid – the only difference is that Rogers has slightly more stamina.
The eyes say something different, however.
Rogers has the aesthetics of that dull yet smooth right-handed fifth starter on every AL Central squad, while Miranda has the Dontrelle Willis-like whip to his delivery:
ICYMI, Ariel Miranda was filthy yesterday.
And if you saw it, enjoy it again. pic.twitter.com/GpvM7Y6nQn
— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) June 5, 2017
His fastball sits in the low nineties, but the velocity plays up due to his solid changeup/splitter combination. He doesn’t have a good breaking ball, however.
The Cuban had limited success in the big leagues and found his way to Japan in 2018, where he posted a solid ERA, but alarming command metrics – 78 strikeouts and 54 walks over 111 IP in 2019.
Miranda has never had average command – averaging 3.7 walks per nine innings throughout his entire baseball career – but his metrics have nosedived in the past three seasons.
He has about as high of a ceiling and as low of a floor as any CPBL newcomer.
Whether Rogers or Miranda starts, this will be a battle of imports with Ryan Feierabend pitching for the Lions.
The lefty began throwing a knuckleball in 2017 with the KT Wiz in the KBO, and was pretty successful – averaging roughly a 7.5 K/9, with a 4/1 strikeout to walk rate over a two year run before getting signed by the Toronto Blue Jays.
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) August 27, 2017
He got roughed up over 16 games and more than 70 innings last season from Double-A to the majors. He should appreciate the drop back down in level – but I don’t know if his high-contact / high flyball approach will lead to significant success in this defensively inept league.
Both pitchers have experience pitching in Asia, but each has significant question marks and red flags in their statistical profiles.
Furthermore, I don’t see any betting value when comparing my projections to listed odds – but I would lean to Feieirabend’s knuckleball and the underdog in this matchup.
CPBL Bets for April 12
- Fubon Guardians (+130, 2 units)
Year to Date: 0-0 (+0.0 Units)