Early on in the Chinese Professional Baseball League season, Aríel Miranda was the talk of the league. He came into the CPBL and set the league on fire. His approach was more straight forward than most foreign pitchers and the idea of a big dude getting guys out while pumping heat was easy to buy into. Unfortunately, not all good things are sustainable. Over the last couple of weeks, Miranda has struggled as his command has vanished. All the while the CTBC Brothers continued to surge in the standings until they finally found themselves in sole possession of first place.
No one pitcher has been responsible for the Brothers’ success, but when Miranda faltered it was Huang En-Sih who stepped into the void and helped the most. The righthander came into his second CPBL season with little in the way of expectations. The Brothers put together a staff that was frontloaded with foreign talent. That pushed En-Sih to the back of the pack and based on his mediocre 2019 it seemed like the ideal place for the youngster.
Entering June En-Sih had lived up to his back of the rotation role. His ERA of 4.45 certainly didn’t make him stand out one way or another. His first start in June he went 7 strong innings against the Rakuten Monkeys in a key game between first and second place teams. He followed that up with three consecutive fantastic starts against the Fubon Guardians. By the time June was over En-Sih had lowered his overall ERA to 3.58 on the back of a 2.67 ERA in the month.
In one month En-Sih went from a back of the rotation afterthought to the anchor of the Brothers’ rotation. His 1.1 tWAR is sixth overall in the league and there’s no reason to think that the twenty-four-year-old won’t be able to keep up his improved play in the coming months. I was lucky enough to watch one of En-Sih’s starts against the Guardians and he was crisp from the word jump. What he showed in that start is an approach that consists of attacking the zone with his fastball and keeping hitters off-balance with off-speed pitches in the bottom of the zone. He’s not walking much, as evidenced by his BB% of 4, and he’s managing to miss bats like crazy in the zone, both his 1.08 WHIP and 23.5 K% can attest to this fact.
No matter where you look En-Sih improved leaps and bounds in June and his 2020 is on track to make 2019 look like an outlier. His ERA+ of 136 is top three in the CPBL right now and with each start, he adds to that number because he’s routinely going 7 innings deep while giving up very little contact and even fewer baserunners and runs. The Brothers needed someone to step up and take on the slack while Miranda tries to get back on track. En-Sih has done that and then some, not only taking over for Miranda as the Brothers’ best pitcher but putting together a run that has entered him into the discussion for best pitcher in the CPBL. There’s a lot of season left, but if the Brothers keep getting the same level of production from En-Sih and Miranda is able to right the ship the season may already be over for everyone else.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown