The Rakuten Monkeys and Uni-Lions will meet for Game 3 of their three-game series on Sunday. It’s the rubber match to decide who is better this weekend. The Monkeys blasted the Lions for a 14-4 win on Friday, and it seemed like they were on their way to another blowout win Saturday. However, the Uni-Lions flipped the script and turned a 7-2 deficit into a 8-7 win.
After going ahead 7-2 in the 4th inning, the Monkeys stopped playing and allowed the Lions to score 6 unanswered runs. The bullpen unraveled for the Monkeys as they gave up 6 puts from the 6th to 9th inning. The final dagger was 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th for the Uni-Lions.
Rakuten came close a couple of times in high-scoring games like that, but they finally paid for it on Saturday. The offense was not able to get things into gear late. In any event, that loss isn’t on the offense, which has been incredible to open the 2020 season.
A 7-2 lead should be more than enough of a cushion for a pitching staff. It’s only the first loss for the Monkeys on the season. They were on a torrid pace with seven straight wins before losing their first outing of the season. Despite getting walked off in the 9th inning yesterday, the Monkeys are in complete control with a record of 7-1.
The next closest club in the CPBL is the Chinatrust Brothers with a record of 4-5. That affords the Monkeys a lot of breathing room early in the 2020 season. Rakuten, formerly Limago, won six championships in the last decade, and look ready to begin this decade with another league title. However, if their bullpen has enough flare ups like we saw in their last outing, things could get interesting and an upset bid could develop.
A win by the Uni-Lions today would be the first series upset of 2020. It’d be a good confidence booster for the Uni-Lions if they are able to take two off the Monkeys this weekend. With Wei-Jun Weng getting the call for the Monkeys on the bump, it’s not going to be an easy feat for the Lions. Head below for our free Rakuten Monkeys vs. Uni-Lions pick for April 26, 2020.
Rakuten Monkeys vs. Uni-Lions CPBL Betting Odds:
Rakuten Monkeys vs. Uni-Lions Prediction:
Wei-Jun Weng is coming off a disappointing rookie campaign with the Monkeys. He was off the mark, but was just getting his feet wet as a professional ball player. Weng is just a 21-year-old and should be able to improve on the numbers he produced in 2019. He posted a 6.14 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in 16 appearances in the CPBL. Early indications in 2020 suggest that Weng is ready to turn a corner, though.
He made one warmup performance with the II team and looked the part. Weng was sharp with a 1.80 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 5 innings. That confidence boiled over to his debut start of 2020. He got the win behind a terrific outing, as he netted a 1.29 ERA and 0.71 WHIP in 7 innings. If Weng can duplicate that performance, the Monkeys won’t have to worry about their bullpen as much as they did yesterday.
Expect Weng to spin a fairly decent game in this matchup. He likely won’t have to be as good as he was in his first start for the Monkeys to still take over control of the Uni-Lions. The Lions will turn to Zi-Qian Shi to lead them to a victory and series win today. Shi held his own in the first start of 2020. He was good for a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP across 6 innings of work. I’m skeptical that Shi is going to be able to consistently do that, though, especially against an offense like the Monkeys on Sunday.
Shi owns a career ERA of 4.94 and 1.55 WHIP in four years. He boasted a shaky 6.42 ERA and 1.54 WHIP last year. Also note that Shi had issues in his warmup starts with the II club in 2020. He was waxed for a 12.17 ERA and 2.52 WHIP in four outings, which included 14.2 innings of work. I could see him regressing after a fairly decent start to 2020 for Shi. Look for the Monkeys to respond for a win by 2 or more runs to break the 1-1 series deadlock.