Anyone who writes fairly frequently knows how easily one can find themselves in a rut. You would think that this site being dedicated to the global game of professional baseball would leave me with endless topics to write about. The topics may be endless but finding a topic that you want to write about in the moment isn’t always so easy. There are occasions when I will flitter through topic after topic and idea after idea and still not settle on something I feel like writing in the here and now. Some writers, I am one of them, develop certain tried and true topics that we can return to in order to get ourselves out of a particular rut. Today I present to my readers, possibly my number one rut buster, Mike Loree.
Being a fan of the Chinese Professional League I have written about Loree quite a bit. I’ve done extensive profiles, quick glances, and write-ups where he’s but one of many players talked about. There’s one constant in my CPBL writing though, how easy I find it to write about Mike Loree’s accomplishments in the league. That brings us to my current rut and how even though he has only made two starts I find myself yet again having no trouble finding ways to write about and discuss what the CPBL’s best pitcher has been doing so far this season.
Baseball Prospectus’ Lucas Apostoleris recently compared Loree to Clayton Kershaw. Before you get all riled up, it wasn’t a straight-up comparison but rooted in the honest truth that Loree has succeeded in the CPBL and built a legend throughout the league much the same way Kershaw did in Major League Baseball. Lucas’ article got me to thinking about how unfortunate it is that a lot of interest in the CPBL has waned following the Eleven Sports Taiwan English language broadcast fiasco and the start of the Korea Baseball Organization. Unlike Lucas and myself, a lot of baseball fans checked out before Loree ever threw a pitch this season. That meant they didn’t get the absolute joy that is watching the right-hander mow down CPBL hitters with his signature forkball.
Loree has only appeared in two games so far this season and he has been his usual self in those starts. If you know the career of Loree you know that him thriving in an offense-first league like the CPBL with a 0.860 WHIP and 2.57 ERA after two starts isn’t actually all that impressive. But then someone reminds you that Loree is coming back from a collarbone injury, is thirty-six years old, and had absolutely zero spring training or minor league rehab, and well, you get the picture. It’s been the same old Loree in his two starts back, forkball after forkball combined with the impeccable command that leaves CPBL hitters not knowing what hit them.
Both of Loree’s 2020 starts have come against the Rakuten Monkeys, easily the class of the league this year. Both times out Loree has stared down the best offense in the league and not just held his own but borderline dominated. It’s a regular occurrence for the Monkeys to score five or more runs in a game, but in their two games against Loree they have managed only two runs apiece. Even more impressive is the fact that Loree is being held back by his team in these first few starts. Despite that, the Fubon Guardians ace has gone 7 innings in both starts and done so with maximum efficiency.
In a season that has seen both Bryan Woodall and Henry Sosa struggle, the Guardians needed their ace back. Well, he’s back and he’s the same dominant force he’s always been. Some pitchers need spring training to get ready or time to shake the rust off. Mike Loree just needs a baseball in his hand and the ability to throw his forkball. Give him those two things and the league is in for the expected rough Mike Loree experience.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Fubon Guardians