The Rakuten Monkeys are essentially the New England Patriots of the Chinese Taipei Professional Baseball League. They have won 6 out of the last 8 Taiwan Series and are going for their fourth straight CPBL championship.
They are off to a 2-0 start to the young season with both victories coming against the Uni Lions.
Maybe an even better comparison for the Rakuten Monkeys would be the New York Yankees of the early 60s. Mantle and Maris shooting missiles 400+feet into the stands!
That’s a little bit more like it. When I think Patriots, I see dink and dunk down the field.
The baseball equivalent would be bunts, stolen bases, and sacrifice flies. The Rakuten Monkeys, though, love the long ball!
The meat and potatoes of their lineup are four hitters who all rank in the top ten in several different batting statistical categories.
They are all above .400 in wOBA which is essentially just a weighted, hence the w, on-base percentage. The normal OBP doesn’t take into account the weight of extra-base hits. A walk counts the same as a triple.
.400 is considered excellent and these four batters are averaging around .450.
The season-long performances of Lisalverto Bonilla, Ryan Carpenter, Justin Nicolino, and Elih Villanueva will determine if the Rakuten Monkeys can win their 4th consecutive Taiwan World Series.
So, the Rakuten Monkeys are on top and trying to stay there.
What about the Fubon Guardians?
They were a last-place team in the CPBL in 2017 and have steadily improved since. The Guardians probably have the best pitching in the league.
Mike Loree is their ace. The 35-year-old New Jersey native is actually one of if not the best pitcher the Chinese Taipei Professional Baseball League has ever seen.
Henry Sosa, who was recently acquired from the Korean league, is lights out as well and will be nipping at the heels of Loree for ace status.
So, this should be a fun one! Pitching vs hitting!
We are going to have to go just a little deeper than that, though. The Fubon Guardians have three-time CPBL MVP on their roster Lin-Yi Chuan.
You can also watch the games here:
⚾| 2020/4/18 1630(GMT+8) #LIVE Pro-baseball game here in #Taiwan on ELEVEN SPORTS. Watch here for the 2020 #CPBL regular season #FubonGuardians vs #RakutenMonkeys @fubonguardians
@RakutenMonkeys#ForTheFans #ELEVENSPORTS in ENGLISH!!! https://t.co/kJiaWsZVgg
— ELEVEN SPORTS TAIWAN (@ElevenSportsTW) April 17, 2020
The game is set to begin at 0500 hours or 5:00 AM Eastern Standard Time this Saturday, April the 18th. This is when most of the CPBL Major League games are going to be played.
The Minor League contests between the teams with the roman numeral II next to their names and the Wei Chuan Dragons, who are one team-minor now-major next season, will be broadcast at 1:00 PM Taiwan time which is an easy conversion of 12 hours back to the East Coast.
Rakuten will be the home team in this matchup.
Let’s look at the pitching matchup for tomorrow and make our pick.
Rakuten Monkeys vs Fubon Guardians
Taking the mound for the undefeated 3-time defending Taiwan World Series Champion Rakuten Monkeys will be Lisalverto Bonilla.
Born in the baseball rich talent bed of the Dominican Republic, Bonilla is a journeyman but he appears to have found a home in the CPBL.
He is a veteran of the three different baseball leagues including the MLB. Bonilla got his first shot at the pros in September of 2014 with the Texas Rangers.
After an elbow injury, he was passed around by several different farm systems until he got another shot with the Cincinnati Reds.
That was short-lived also and after trips south of the border to the Mexican leagues and to the far east to play in for the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization, Bonilla found himself in Taiwan.
In his first start with his new league and team, the 30-year-old vet allowed 1 run over 6 innings pitched.
His counterpart for the Fubon Guardians is a local pitcher whose name is escaping me right now and by that I mean I simply can’t find the English translation. Ha, found it!
Apparently, it’s much easier to use their uniform number to find the English name listed on the roster than to try and match up the Chinese symbols.
Chiang Kuo Hao had a limited number of appearances in 2019 and wasn’t really able to get it going. 11 games played with just 2 starts and an ERA of 7.40.
That, of course, isn’t great but it only takes a few runs here and there to get your ERA up with only 20 innings pitched. Still, that’s about 16 runs given up over 20 innings.
Not good, especially considering he is going up against a powerful foreign pitcher, and the foreign pitchers are usually better.
Before you label me a full-on racist, there is reasoning behind this.
The highest level is the MLB. We all know that. And most of the top Taiwanese pitchers go directly to America to make much more money and challenge themselves more than ever before.
That leaves mediocre local hurlers faced off against journeymen from the states or in Bonilla’s case, the Caribbean.
The Rakuten Monkeys have the best hitting already and playing at home with a better pitcher on paper all points towards a win for the defending champs.
Let’s just go with the moneyline pick today.
Rakuten is rolling and they have a massive run differential so far this year but these two teams have been involved in 1 run games together twice already this year.
I like the run total as well.
The Rakuten Monkeys don’t have their ace out there and Chiang Kuo Hao is at the bottom of the rotation for the Guardians.
Get those bets in ASAP. The games will start at 5:00 AM Eastern Time.
Tune in, turn up, and bet hard!