Every starter scheduled to pitch tonight is of the right-handed variety so left-handed hitters (LHHs) across the league must be licking their chops. Once again, the Giants were postponed last night, this one of the most surprising variety, so Dan Straily (LOT) is slated to start for the third straight night. He highlights a slate that features exactly one game with a total over 10.5-runs and exactly zero -180 favorites or higher.
This chart shows how tonight’s probable pitchers have fared specifically in the KBO since the start of the 2018 season (including their 2020 stats) and the FanDuel Sportsbook betting lines for each game (along with implied team totals):
Kia Tigers @ Kiwoom Heroes
Heroes starter Young Gun Jo (KIW) has acted as more like an extended opener than true starter this year as he has topped out at 76-pitches over the course of his last four games (all starts). In those games, Jo has pitched into the fifth inning just once and has struck out just 10.1-percent of opposing batters during that span. Through 42-games, the Tigers have been one of the league’s most difficult teams to strike out (16.9-percent K rate) and they rank fourth in the league in HR/9 rate. In this matchup specifically, their power skillset is noteworthy because Jo has yielded a ridiculous .402 wOBA to opposing hitters to go along with a 1.15 HR/9 rate. Furthermore, the Tigers are a patient bunch (9.2-percent BB rate ranks second in the KBO) and Jo has walked hitters at a higher rate (15.2-percent) than he has struck them out. Behind Jo, the Heroes bullpen owns the second best ERA of any unit, but the Tigers still match up incredibly well against the starter.
On the Heroes side, their offense is alive and well now that ByungHo Park (KIW) seems to have found his swing again. Over the team’s past five games, they have scored at least five runs in each contest and have averaged 7.4 runs per game (R/G) during that span. Tonight, the challenge is tougher than usual, as Drew Gagnon (KIA) will toe the mound against the second place Heroes. To this point, Gagnon ranks third in the league in K rate (25.8-percent) and FIP (2.77), second in HR/9 rate (0.20) and is one of only 19 pitchers sporting a BB rate under 7.0-percent. Since the Heroes are the home team and streaking, they have been priced like a slight favorite, but the pitching matchup specifically is extremely one-sided. The value lies in the underdog here.
Kia Tigers +104 ML, 1U
KT Wiz @ Hanwha Eagles
While the Eagles are a porous ballclub in total, Warwick Saupold (HAN) is at least the best starting pitcher they have to offer. Saupold is not a mystery to those looking to bet him as he simply pounds the strike zone, looks to induce ground balls and every once in a while is BABIP-d to death. No qualified pitcher has posted a lower BB rate than Saupold (4.0-percent) but his K rate sits at eighth lowest amongst qualified starters as well. Essentially, his KBO numbers are reminiscent of Tim Hudson in his elder days in the MLB, where he just forced hitters to string together hits/rallies in order to beat him. Pitching to contact versus the Wiz is a dangerous proposition as Mel Rojas Jr. (KTW) and Baek Ho Kang (KTW) are two of the top power threats in the league. Only the Dinos and Heroes have hit more bombs than the Wiz and only the Dinos edge them out in terms of SLG. Something has got to give here and Vegas appears to be assuming the Wiz bats are going to just roll (as the Wiz are listed as -156 favorites).
Meanwhile, the Eagles are the league’s clear worst offense and still missing a foreign hitter since Brandon Barnes (HAN) is still quarantining. Probables starter Hyeong Jun So (KTW), however, ranks worst on the slate in multiple categories since the beginning of 2018: HR/9 rate (1.25) and ISO allowed (.163). Additionally, his 10.5-percent K rate is ugly as-is his 5.43 FIP and .351 wOBA allowed. Through over 40-games, the Wiz’s bullpen still sits nearly half a run worse than any other team, and the Eagles have low key been playing teams tough as of late (other than one outlier blowout by the Lions). Do you believe in miracles? If so, take a flier on the Eagles.
Hanwha Eagles ML +128, 1U
KT Wiz/Hanwha Eagles Under 9.5-Runs -112, 0.5U
LG Twins @ SK Wyverns
Geon Wook Lee’s (SK) KBO sample size consists of 26.1 IP overall and seven total appearances (five of which have been starts). In those games, Lee has struggled mightily with control (13.4-percent) and yet has somehow come out with a nifty looking 3.42 ERA. Naturally, his FIP is significantly higher (4.95), and the underlying numbers suggest there are darker days ahead…which could easily be beginning tonight. Roberto Ramos (LG) and Hyun Soo Kim (LG) are two of the most lethal LHHs in the entire league and the Twins offense ranks third in the league in R/G. Against an upper-echelon offense like the Twins, Lee is likely in trouble.
On the other hand, the Wyverns are in for a tough matchup versus Casey Kelly (LG) and his solid numbers across the board. If there is one glaring flaw, it is the fact that Kelly has allowed an uncomfortable amount of hard contact (21.0-percent) compared to barely any soft contact (12.0-percent). In other words, when opposing hitters make contact against Kelly, it is almost always of the medium or hard variety, and his K rate pales in comparison to the elites (just 17.2-percent). Although the Wyverns strike out at a massive 19.6-percent rate (second highest behind only the Eagles), they possess some pop as well. Most will not look at a game with Kelly on the mound as an obvious over game but the hitting matchups on both sides suit the offenses.
LG Twins/SK Wyverns Over 9.5-Runs, -118, 1U
NC Dinos @ Doosan Bears
Welcome to the unknown that is Bears starter Jong Gi Park (DOO), but in three appearances this year, he has seemed to hold his own: 20.5-percent K rate to just a 5.1-percent BB rate, 3.87 FIP and .131 ISO allowed. To be fair, the .365 wOBA allowed is a bit concerning, and realistically, the sample size is not big enough to make any sort of true judgement. Park is a 25-year old who had made three appearances back in 2015 (2.1 total innings of ugliness; 11.57 ERA and 3.00 WHIP) but it is hard to make a conclusive ruling on his skill set through two total starts against the Eagles and Twins respectively. The Dinos are the best offense in the league, and he just shut down the Twins over six innings, so there are a wide variety of potential outcomes.
With Jae Il Oh (DOO) back in the lineup, the Bears went to town on both Jong Hoon Park (SK) and the Wyverns bullpen last night en route to a DFS slate-winning 14-runs. Dinos starter Jae Hak Lee (NCD) is an above-average pitcher in this league but nothing truly special. Dating back his last 322.1 innings, Lee has posted a 4.47 ERA, 4.22 FIP and 1.36 WHIP while allowing a .315 wOBA. Now that Oh is back, the Bears lineup is flooded with power-hitting lefties, as Jose Fernandez (DOO), Joo Hwan Choi (DOO), Jae Hwan Kim (DOO) and Oh hit 2–3-4-5 (and are all left-handed). Lee does not miss bats at a top tier rate (16.8-percent), and the Bears almost never strike out (15.2-percent K rate), so expect a ton of balls to be put in play (as per usual when talking about the Bears). If Park is anywhere near as good as he has shown in a limited sample, and theoretically at an age where he should be entering his prime, the Bears are being undervalued by the betting market.
Doosan Bears ML +116, 1U
Samsung Lions @ Lotte Giants
Five teams average more R/G than the Lions but they are going to have a difficult time scoring versus Dan Straily (LOT). Over the course of Straily’s last three starts, he has struck out a whopping 32.1-percent of the batters he has faced but amazingly has not won a game during that stretch. How is that possible? Well, here is some context:
As Jeeho Yoo identifies in the tweet, no pitcher in the entire KBO has received less run support than Straily, but he has pitched incredibly well. Since there is significantly less power in this league comparatively to the MLB, Straily has not struggled with the long ball like he did in the big leagues. Three teams have produced a lower HR/9 rate than the Lions so power output is unlikely to come from this squad even when facing a less talented pitcher. Straily’s start has been pushed back two straight days so it is possible he is a bit rusty if only because his routine has been adjusted. Having said that, he is in a great spot.
As for the Giants offense, Tae In Won (SAM) will be the starter tasked with slowing them down and his surface numbers appear to be fraudulent. Won’s ERA-FIP ranks dead last amongst all qualified starters as his FIP is nearly two full runs higher than his ERA. The Giants have registered eight-plus hits in four straight games and have top bat on the team Ah Seop Son (LOT) back and healthy. His presence is gigantic for this lineup as evident by his .412 wOBA, .145 wRC+ and .475 OBP (which all lead the team). In fact, his 1.79 BB/K ratio leads all qualified hitters in the KBO, and Won is approaching a double-digit BB rate. Expect regression to start for Won against a pesky Giants team and the Straily-led home team is one of the safest bets of the entire slate.
Lotte Giants ML -156, 3U