Today the Chicago Cubs promoted right-handed pitcher Jen-Ho Tseng to the major league roster. He’ll make his debut tonight in Wrigley Field against the New York Mets. Here’s a quick take on what to expect.
Tseng is from Taiwan and was well-known on the international circuit, including a stint for the Taiwan team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The Cubs signed him as a free agent that summer for $1,625,000. Most expected him to move quickly due to his polish but the Cubs promoted him conservatively, giving him one season each in Low-A, High-A, and Double-A from 2014 through 2016. A big reason for this was a loss of fastball velocity.
His ‘16 campaign with Tennessee was nothing special (4.29 in 113 innings, 69/32 K/BB, 138 hits) but he improved in 2017, posting a combined 2.54 ERA in 145 innings between Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, with a sharp 122/38 K/BB. He was recently named Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Tseng is listed at 6-1, 195, a left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, born October 3rd, 1994. In 2015 and 2016 his fastball was just in the upper-80s but 2017 observers report an increase, back up to the 90-93 marks he showed as an amateur. Improved velocity is consistent with a more impressive strikeout rate this year. He mixes in a curveball and change-up, both of which have plus moments, but the better fastball gives him a greater margin for error.
Overall this is a fourth starter profile, but keep in mind that guys with Tseng’s level of pitchability can surprise us.
Here’s three and a half minutes of video (warning: annoying sound effects).