The term “tragic hero,” often used to describe a literary character who suffers misfortune, is the most fitting term to describe Lin Ying-jeh (林英傑) of the Sinon Bulls for the kind of season he has had this year.
The southpaw out of Kaohsiung’s Kao Yuan Vocational School, which has a list of distinguished alumni including Major Leaguer Tsao Chin-hui, Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) All-Star hurler Chen Wei-yin and Chen Yung-chi of the Uni--President Lions, needed 10 starts and eight losses to break into the win column this season, despite registering four quality starts in which he allowed three runs or less in at least six innings of play.
“All I can do is take the mound when I am supposed to and do my best without thinking about anything else too much; [I remain] hopeful things will fall into place,” Lin told a Chinese-language daily earlier this season.
He had three straight bad starts in late April and early last month in which he allowed 21 runs (18 earned) that shot his earned-run average (ERA) to a career-high of 5.62 at that point. However, that still did not do justice to the former Macoto Cobras ace, who could have easily had five wins instead of his current 1-8 mark.
Lin had what many consider a fast start early in his professional career, with back-to-back mediocre seasons for the Falas of the former Taiwan Major League.
However, Lin shook off the poor start with a stellar 2001 campaign that secured a 13-3 record with a 2.74 ERA with the Falas, before a 14-win season with the Cobras that included league-best finishes of 203 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA.
He followed the 2004 success with another outstanding season in 2005, with a dozen wins and a 2.34 ERA that drew the attention of foreign clubs and eventually the signing with the Rakuten Eagles of the NPB.
Even though his three seasons with the Eagles were a disappointment, with injuries plaguing him throughout his Japanese tenure, he was able to bounce back on his return to the CPBL with a decent outing in 2009 (6-6 with a 4.44 ERA), before going 9-7 in a solid effort last year that featured a 2.69 ERA.
“He [Lin] is definitely no stranger to overcoming adversity and I would still want someone like him on my rotation if possible,” Brother Elephants manager Chen Rei-chen said of Lin, showing tremendous respect for the diehard lefty.
Chen could be right as Lin’s impressive victory against the Elephants last Sunday, in which he allowed two runs on six hits over eight frames, might just be the spark that triggers yet another comeback.