After getting postponed last night, the KT Wiz and Samsung Lions will play a double-header tonight. When betting the game, be careful to properly identify which of the two games you are betting as Odrisamer Despaigne (KTW) and David Buchanan (SAM) are slated to start the game discussed in this article. Tonight’s slate features exactly one heavier favorite than -162 so the oddsmakers at FanDuel Sportsbook feel most of these teams are relatively evenly-matched.
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):
Note: Hanwha’s Seung Ju Han is showing no stats because he will be making his KBO debut on Saturday morning
KT Wiz @ Samsung Lions (First Game of Double-Header)
As per usual, double-headers are a bit tough to handicap ahead of time because teams typically choose to start some of their most impactful players in just one of the two games as to not overwork them. Essentially, this section is going to work on assumptions which may or may not come to fruition. The only things bettors know for sure this early in the day are Despaigne and Buchanan are the two scheduled starters for the game as there are no guarantees as to which hitters find their way into the lineup for game one. On the Wiz side of the ball, Baek Ho Kang (KTW) and Han-joon Yoo (KTW) recently returned to their lineup, which provides serious depth to an already potent lineup. Mind you, the team is still without ex-San Francisco Giant Jae-gyun Hwang (KTW), who was sent to the injured list three days ago. After laboring through two of his first three starts in the KBO, Buchanan has now strung together three consecutive quality starts and has allowed just one run during that span (20 IP). It is also worth noting star closer Seung-hwan Oh (SAM), formerly of the Colorado Rockies, recently returned from a gambling suspension and has solidified the back-end of the Lions bullpen. The Wiz’s lineup is now clearly one of the best three in the entire league so something has got to give here with the way Buchanan has been pitching.
As for the Lions, they draw a matchup versus a struggling Despaigne who has now yielded 22 hits and 14 earned runs (ERs) over the course of his last two starts alone. To be fair, he started slow against the Lotte Giants (three ERs in the first inning) his last time out, and then was able to settle down and allow just one ER in his final four innings of the start. After striking out 14 batters in his first two starts, the K rate has dipped significantly, as he has struck out just six of the last 53 hitters he has faced (11.3-percent K rate). His last two games easily could just be a rough two-game stretch while getting used to this league but the Wiz are listed as -154 road favorites with the worst bullpen in the league behind Despaigne. If recent form is any indication, the Lions are a glaring value at +126.
Samsung Lions ML +126, 2U
Kia Tigers @ SK Wyverns
Quietly, the Kia Tigers starting rotation ranks second in the league in ERA, and the depth of their starting five honestly may be unmatched (even by the NC Dinos whose starters lead the league in ERA). Whereas the Dinos staff is led by a few dominant pitchers, the Tigers are solid 1-5, with 27-year old Ki Young Im (KIA) looking like an improved pitcher this season. Through six starts, Im sports a 3.34 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 20.9-percent K rate, just 3.0-percent BB rate and 0.56 HR/9 rate (all career-bests) all while having allowed a .344 BABIP. In previous years, Im had switched back-and-forth between the bullpen and the rotation, but there is no reason for that to be the case this year considering the results. The larger sample suggests Im looks like a mediocre pitcher so those taking a big picture look at Im could be missing the improvement. Both the top hitters in the Wyverns lineup are of the right-handed variety and do not own the platoon edge versus Im. When the starter is finished, the Tigers bullpen is nothing more than league average, but it may not have to be to squeak out a win here versus a clearly inferior opponent.
Why the strong words against the Wyverns? Well, starter Seung Won Moon (SK) has posted an ugly 4.80 FIP dating back to 2018 including a massive .170 ISO. Right-handed starters that are susceptible to power are going to struggle with the top of the Tigers lineup as Ho Ryeong Kim (KIA), Preston Tucker (KIA), Ji-wan Na (KIA) and Seung-taek Han (KIA) all have posted ISOs over .170 in 2020. The one piece of bad news for Kia is the fact Hyung-woo Choi (KIA) left last night with a back injury and may miss tonight’s contest as well. Also, Moon has the ability to miss bats (18.4-percent K rate is second highest amongst pitchers on the slate) and Kim, Han and Na have all posted K rates of at least 19.7-percent. This game could clearly go either way but the Tigers are simply the more well-rounded ball club. I’ll go ahead and back them.
Kia Tigers ML -124, 1U
Lotte Giants @ LG Twins
Woo Chan Cha (LG) is the definition of mediocrity as hs owns a 5.02 FIP over the course of his last 64 appearances (63 starts) or a span of 372.1 IP. Cha walks hitters at nearly a double-digit rate and pitches from the left side which means nearly the entire top of the Giants lineup will own the platoon advantage against him. Furthermore, Giants leadoff man Ah Seop Son (LOT) has walked at the sixth highest rate of any qualified hitter, so he should be able to set the table versus a wild opposing starter. The Twins defensively are awesome, as-is their bullpen (by far the best bullpen ERA in the league), but Cha is getting priced like an ace (which he is not).
The Twins lineup took a significant hit last night when it was announced Roberto Ramos (LG) was added to the injured list and he would miss the entire weekend series. Without Ramos in the lineup, the Twins moved all-time KBO hits leader Yong-taik Park (LG) to the three hole last night and hit Eun-sung Chae (LG) cleanup and Min-sung Kim (LG) fifth. To put that differently, the lineup’s depth was hurt drastically, as Park has not topped 15 homers since 2015 and produced a career-low .344 SLG last year (.380 so far this year). Unfortunately, if looking to back the Giants, their starting pitcher is kinda brutal; Se Woong Park’s (LOT) 9.7-percent BB rate dating back to 2018 is the highest of any pitcher on the slate as-is his .383 wOBA allowed during that span. Park’s K stuff is nothing special and his HR/9 rate allowed is typically amongst the worst in the league. Since the Twins are missing their top power bat, they are less likely to take advantage by hitting multiple homers. Oh, by the way, here is Park’s curveball grip as displayed by Dan Straily (LOT). Anyways, this game is the toughest for me to gauge, so with that being said, I think there is more value in taking the underdog but it is a low confidence play.
Lotte Giants ML +134, 1U
Doosan Bears @ Hanwha Eagles
Platoon advantage be damned last night as the Bears were able to rack up four runs in 4.1 Chad Bell (HAN) innings. Tonight, the Eagles will roll out right-handed 19-year old rookie Seung Ju Han (HAN) against one of the most potent lineups in the league. Not much is known about Han but he is the man standing in between the Eagles and a record-tying 19th loss in a row. The lefty-heavy Bears lineup has made mincemeat out of right-handed starters all year long so it is tough to believe that would not be the case once again here. Even if Han were to hold his own, the bullpen behind him is one of just three in the league with an ERA over 6.00. The Eagles are in legitimate danger of losing for the 19th consecutive time.
What really is there to say about the Eagles offense? In 34 games, the Eagles have scored just 107 runs, or 3.15 runs per game (R/G), struck out at the highest rate, averaged the fewest home runs (HRs) per game (HR/G) and hits per game (H/G) while winning just seven total games. They are legitimately worse than the Orioles were in the AL East in 2019 and are tough to rely on any given night. Bears starter Hui Kwan Yu (DOO) is typically someone to pick on in daily fantasy, and often bet against, because he strikes out around 10-percent of batters and is susceptible to the long ball. However, the Eagles are noticeably lacking power and have a rookie teenager on the mound. It is difficult to find motivation to back them normally and tonight is really no different.
Doosan Bears ML -310, 1U
Kiwoom Heroes @ NC Dinos
Finally, the best game of the night rounds out the slate, with the 25-8 Dinos taking on the 19-15 Heroes in Changwon. Dinos starter Jae Hak Lee (NCD) has held opponents to a .312 wOBA (best on slate) and .107 ISO dating back his last 315.6 IP and rarely ever allows the long ball (0.60 HR/9). His 4.20 FIP is tops on the slate amongst pitchers with at least a 50-inning sample but the opponent is no walk in the park…especially because Lee is not a serious strike out threat (16.7-percent K rate). No team has walked at a higher rate than the Heroes and they rank above the league-average in both R/G and HR/G while striking out at the third highest rate (although they are virtually tied for second with the Lions). It will be interesting to see how Lee fares pitching to contact versus a top of the lineup that features contact-oriented hitters Keon Chang Seo (KIW) and Jung Hoo Lee (KIW). Unfortunately, ByungHo Park (KIW) has been a no-show recently for this lineup, which has contirbuted to them losing two of their last three (and losing a series to the lowly Lions).
On the Dinos side, this remains the top offensive unit in the league, with Aaron Altherr (NCD) looking like a different hitter in June than he did in May. Following an extremely cold start, Altherr is up to a .284/.376/.578 slash line with a .294 ISO that would lead most other teams. However, the Dinos lineup includes Jin-sung Kang (NCD) and Sung-bum Na (NCD), so he ranks third on this team in the category. Probable starter Hyun Hee Han (KIW) sports a 4.83 FIP over his last 97 appearances although it should be noted only 34 of those appearances have been starts. In a starting-only role this season, he has pitched fine by KBO standards: 4.26 FIP, 15.8-percent K rate, 6.9-percent BB rate and a 0.55 HR/9 rate. To this point, his .355 BABIP is by far the highest of any starter in the rotation, which is destined to come back down to Earth, but should still remain high due to his unexceptional arsenal of pitches. Look, the Dinos are the better team here with the superior pitcher on the mound, but it is still tough to bet against a solid Heroes lineup with a high degree of confidence. The over/under is about right in terms of runs expected in this game so the correct play is to simply ride the Dinos moneyline.
NC Dinos ML -156, 1U