Rakuten Monkeys @ CTBC Brothers
Pitching: Lisalverto Bonilla (5-1, 3.09 ERA) @ Mitch Lively (4-0, 5.48 ERA)
Last time the Monkeys faced Mitch Lively, it didn't go well, but that was mostly due to poor pitching on their own end. Lively gave up four runs in his start, leaving in the sixth after allowing the first two hitters to reach.
The Monkeys offense has yet to regain their momentum in the days since that game, so Lively's boosted familiarity with the cold Rakuten offense could serve to his benefit.
And yes, cold is the right word for the Rakuten offense. Leaving behind the "we're never out of this" reputation over the last month, the team has continually struggled to create significant in-game momentum.
Slugger Chu Yu-Hsien has been extremely cold, and leadoff hitter Chen Chen-Wei has found himself demoted down the batting order, although he hit two homers last night in a clear effort to change the narratives around his recent inconsistencies at the plate.
One day previous to that Lively start, Lisalverto Bonilla pitched a gem against the Brothers in a 4-0 shutout win for Rakuten. The league's ERA leader went eight innings in that shutout, giving up seven hits (two to Chang Chih-Hao) while throwing 109 pitches.
The Brothers are coming off of a series in which they crushed the Guardians in both games of their two game series, so the Monkeys will need to find their hitting rhythm or rely on another Bonilla masterpiece to find victory.
The Monkeys cold streak has allowed the Brothers to take the lead in the standings, but with only a half-game separating the two teams, this series is the most important one of the season thus far for the league's first half of the season.
Uni-Lions @ Fubon Guardians
Pitching: Ryan Feierabend (2-3, 4.41 ERA) @ Henry Sosa (4-2, 4.13 ERA)
Henry Sosa has a good chance to lower his 4.13 ERA in theory, but the Uni-Lions have actually been much better this month than you might expect.
Yesterday, the team put up ten runs against the Rakuten Monkeys while also keeping their offense reasonably quiet. They did give up five runs, but four were from the long-ball - and Rakuten failed to use them to create any significant momentum.
Meanwhile, the Guardians have been extremely cold lately - they're 3-7 in their last 10 and they've been outscored 26-3 in their last two games. The last time they won was against the Uni-Lions though, when they scored six against Logan Darnell on the 14th of this month.
Ryan Feierabend is on the hill for the Uni-Lions, and he'll be looking for a breakout performance in a season where he's produced average results. He's been using his knuckleball significantly less this season than he did in 2019 within Major League Baseball, so it'll be interesting to see if that changes as he gains more experience with the CPBL.
In other news for Fubon, the team is going to bring in another foreign pitcher within the next few weeks - Manny Banuelos will join the club, per CPBL Stats. With Ryan Bollinger's injuries and recent struggles from Mike Loree and Bryan Woodall, Banuelos will do his best to join Sosa and solidify the top of the Guardians rotation.
The Uni-Lions are also eyeing foreign signings, as they released Donn Roach yesterday. Feierabend is their team leader in ERA among eligible players, and the only one of their foreign players in the league's top ten. Shih Tzu-Chien is also on the list, landing at 9th with a 5.88 ERA.