Henry Sosa’s return to the Fubon Guardians was the talk of the Chinese Professional Baseball League offseason. That came with good reason, Sosa had dominated for the Guardians in 2019 before leaving for the Korea Baseball Organization. With his return, it was assumed that it would be Sosa battling Mike Loree for the title of the Ace of Taiwan.
While this was happening the CTBC Brothers made a signing of their own, Aríel Miranda. Miranda signed the most lucrative deal ever by a foreigner in the CPBL. That should have put him on the radar of CPBL fans everywhere. A funny thing happened, so much focus was on Sosa that the signing of Miranda went virtually unnoticed. This site didn’t cover it, and other CPBL sites may have written about it but Miranda didn’t get the coverage that Sosa’s signing had gotten. When the season began Sosa remained the talk of the league while Loree and his injury woes grabbed the remaining headlines.
Now that the CPBL season is three weeks old it is Miranda who is in the spotlight. The former Vaqueros de La Habana star has been excellent in all three of his starts, including keeping the powerhouse Rakuten Monkeys lineup in check in his most recent start. Miranda has attacked the league much the same way that Sosa did in 2019. A steady stream of fourseam fastballs coming in around 94 miles per hour. Unlike Sosa, Miranda hasn’t really turned to his offspeed repertoire all that much. He has lived, and lived well, off of a fastball that CPBL hitters simply can’t catch up with.
In his last game versus the Monkeys there was a sequence late in the game when the Monkeys were threatening. Miranda had gotten into some trouble and found himself facing the dangerous Lin Li. Against perhaps the best player in the league, Miranda showed why the Brothers were wise to spend as much money as they did on him. In old school fashion Miranda squared right up at Li and busted him inside with two straight scorching four-seamers. Li had trouble with both offerings but he figured that down in the count Miranda would try to get him with his changeup or by burying a curveball in the dirt. Instead, Miranda threw a 95 mile per hour heater right on the inside corner that froze Li in place and stranded the runner on third.
That sequence was only one in an early-season game, but it speaks to the type of pitcher the Brothers have brought on board. Miranda will challenge any hitter in the league. It’s an approach that has worked thus far. In three starts Miranda has thrown 18 innings and amassed an ERA of 1.50, a WHIP of 0.890, an ERA+ of 172, and a tWAR of 0.6. His K% is an astounding 31 and he’s stranding 89% of runners who find their way on base. Again, Miranda is doing all of this by blowing his heater past CPBL hitters. Perhaps Miranda will falter once CPBL hitters have had a chance to adjust but Miranda can mitigate any adjustment by mixing in his offspeed pitches more often.
With Loree not having started yet and Sosa struggling to maintain his velocity Aríel Miranda has inserted himself into the discussion for the Ace of Taiwan. As it stands right now Miranda is the pitcher I would take in a must-win game. His results are great and his accompanying stuff is just too good. Hopefully, other CPBL teams will take notice of the benefits of paying for a higher-level talent and adjust their willingness to spend accordingly. Regardless, Miranda has arrived in the CPBL and he has been an absolute joy to watch.
Lead photo courtesy of Gene Wang – Getty Images