(As with the rest of our CPBL coverage on the site, we’ll be using the Taiwanese order for player names as is standard across CPBL English-language broadcasts and websites such as CPBL Stats. Jhang Jin-De was known as “Jin-De Jhang” while playing in Minor League Baseball.)
You really do have to feel for Jhang Jin-De.
The 2020 first-rounder adapted well to the CPBL last season after joining the Fubon Guardians, hitting .343 with 9 HR and 30 RBI at the top of the order. Jhang’s 69 hits in 53 games ensured that he was well within the top tier of CPBL hitters, and assuming health, many would’ve expected that he’d be set to do so again in his first full season playing in his home of Taiwan.
That was the asterisk, though, wasn’t it? “Assuming health.”
Jhang’s dealt with a consistent wave of injuries in his professional baseball career, including an elbow ailment that shortened his 2017 Australian Baseball League season. His Minor League Baseball career was solid, but the injury concerns were common there as well.
Unfortunately, Jhang’s set to sit on the sidelines once again as we draw closer to the 2021 CPBL season. As reported by ETToday, he’s likely to miss at least the start of the season with knee discomfort.
Offense: With Jhang’s established health concerns, there were many that already expected him to be the everyday designated hitter even when at full strength – which would push Kao Kuo-Hui back into a crowded outfield. For now, Kao seems like a lock to be their primary DH once again.
The batting order is much stronger when Jhang is at the top of it, obviously, but given the outfield depth the team has, this will be a time to seriously evaluate who the top talent is.
As long as Jhang is out, the team will be wise to use the time to seriously evaluate who the top talent is in valuable non-exhibition game scenarios.
Lin Che-Hsuan is the only name penciled into the outfield at the moment (centre field, to be specific), with veterans Malo Ipong, Kao Kuo-Lin, and Kao Hsiao-Yi battling alongside 23-year old Shen Hao-Wei for the other two spots. There might be platoons when Jhang comes back, particularly with Kao Kuo-Lin and Malo Ipong, so this is a chance for these outfielders to show second-year manager Hong I-Chung they deserve an everyday role.
|LF / DH||Kao Kuo-Hui||28||高國輝|
|CF||Lin Che-Hsuan (Captain)||1||林哲瑄|
|RF||Malo Ipong (Chang Cheng-Wei) (LH)||6||張正偉|
Defense: The Guardians are seemingly prepared for a scenario where they’d have to roster two catchers not named Jhang, and it’s likely going to stay similar to their 2020 approach; they made sure to re-sign free agent catcher Lin Yu-Ying, and he figures to start most days for the team.
Dai Pei-Feng is also likely to start in a fair number of games as the team’s top left-handed option. (Dai is a righty catcher, but a lefty hitter.) Veteran Fang Ke-Wei and 2020 rookie Yao Kuan-Wei played a limited role for the Guardians last season as well, while Hsiao Yi-Ming and Lin Chih-Yang are listed on the roster as additional options.
|C / DH||Jhang Jin-De (Injured) (LH)||69||張進德|
|C||Dai Pei-Feng (Left-Handed)||95||戴培峰|
|C||Lin Chih-Yang (Left-Handed)||89||林志洋|
More Frustration for the Guardians
The Guardians were dealt even more bad news ahead of the season, as ETToday is also reporting that several members of their bullpen are dealing with injuries; Lin Yi-Hao (shoulder discomfort), Lo Kuo-Hua, and Li Chien-Hsun are the three named.
Lin is the big name of the three, as his 46 appearances in 2020 ranked third on the team. Lo was eighth, with 23.1 innings pitched. Li appeared in five games for the main team in 2020, pitching mostly for the second team.
The blow to the Guardians bullpen depth is notable, mostly because the team also let free agent Lai Hung-Cheng leave for their longtime rival, the Rakuten Monkeys. The team may use this as an opportunity to use new acquisitions Lin Yi-Hsiang and Lin Po-Yu more than expected, but it’s far from ideal – especially in the case of Lin Yi-Hao.
Guardians Projected Bullpen Picture
|LH RP||Lin Yi-Hsiang||—||林逸翔|
|LH RP||Chen Wei-Lin||30||陳韋霖|
|RH RP||Lin Po-Yu||—||林柏佑|
|RH RP||Yang Bin||74||楊彬|
|RH RP||Fan Yu-Yu||47||范玉禹|
|RH RP||Ou Shu-Chen||57||歐書誠|
|RH RP||Lo Kuo-Hua (Injured)||37||羅國華|
|RH RP||Lin Chen-Hua||11||林晨樺|
|RH RP||Lin Yi-Hao (Injured)||96||林羿豪|
|RH RP||Wang Wei-Yung||82||王尉永|
|RH RP||Li Chien-Hsun (Injured)||54||李建勳|