Tonight’s KBO slate features exactly zero pitchers with a K rate over 20-percent over the past two seasons and exactly one pitcher with a FIP under 4.22 during that time. Expect this to be more of an offensive-scentric slate than in recent days due to the overwhelming number of subpar arms slated to pitch. 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):
Kia Tigers @ Doosan Bears
Right-hander and newly-minted leadoff hitter Ho Ryung Kim (KIA) continues to keep it rolling as he has hit safely in each game (four total) since being move to the top of the lineup. During that span, Kim has launced two homers, stolen two bases and struck out a whopping nine times. Hui Kwan Yu’s (DOO) 10.7-percent K rate since the start of 2018 ranks dead last amongst pitchers on the slate so he is unlikely to be able to exploit Kim’s glaring weakness. Ji Wan Na (KIA) is a powerful all-or-nothing type hitter in this lineup who also should benefit from a pitcher relying on contact to register outs. It should be noted the top two hitters in the Tigers lineup hit from the left side of the plate (Preston Tucker (KIA) and Hyung Woo Choi (KIA)) but Yu pitches to contact and is susceptible to the long ball. Beyond Yu, the Bears bullpen ranks ninth in ERA, having been burned for a 6.87 ERA through 28 games. Yu’s FIP sits over a run above his ERA this year so regression is coming in the near future.
Opposing starter Ki Young Im (KIA) has not posted a WHIP below 1.70 since the 2017 season but he is beginning to look like an improved pitcher in his age 27 season. Three of Im’s five early season matchups have come versus the combination of the Lotte Giants and Samsung Lions but he has struck out 21.8-percent of opposing hitters nad has only walked 3.6-percent so far. Im never really struggled with control issues in the past but this strikeout number is definitely an outlier. In his two matchups versus upper-echelon offenses, Im has yielded a combined five runs in 8.2 innings, but he has still missed bats (four-plus Ks in every start this year). This will be the second time already that Im has faced Doosan and they chased him out of the first game in the fourth inning. Instead of laying the odds for a favorite with one of the worst bullpens in the league, simply pound the over in this game.
Kia Tigers/Doosan Bears Over 10.5 Runs, 1U
KT Wiz @ Lotte Giants
Yesterday’s starter, Dan Straily (LOT), was able to blank the KT Wiz for seven innings in a game the Giants won 1-0. Sunday’s starter See Woong Park (LOT) is nowhere near as talented as he has allowed a 1.15 HR/9 rate and 1.83 WHIP over the course of his last 29 starts. Park misses bats at an average rate (15.9-percent) but walks hitters at a near double-digit rate so it is not difficult to see why this is a pitcher with a FIP well over 5.00. In all five starts this year, Park has allowed three-plus runs, and opponents have launched four homers against him in his last two games alone. Mel Rojas Jr. (KTW) is one of the top few power threats in the league and he must be licking his chops at the prospects of hitting in this matchup. Even without superstar Baek Ho Kang (KTW) in the lineup, the Wiz should be primed for an offensive explosion.
Odrisamer Despaigne (KTW) is coming off a start that is more reminiscent of his time in the MLB than it had been of his time in the KBO. In that start, Despaigne was smacked around for 15 hits and 10 runs in 10 innings while striking out just two. Clearly, that was one of the worst starts of the entire season, and bettors will have to decide whether it should be completely written off or seen as foreshadowing. Studies have shown pitchers are more prone to a blowup the following game after a blowup but the Lotte Giants are amongst the league’s weakest offenses. Not only are they extremely right-handed but they rank second to last in R/G and home runs (HR/G) per game (HR/G)…and now outfielder Byung Hun Min (LOT) has been placed on the injured list as well. That leaves this lineup essentially 4-5 men deep with Dae Ho Lee (LOT), Jun Woo Jeon (LOT), Chi Hong An (LOT) and Dixon Machado (LOT) being the only active players to have launched more than one homer so far. Something has got to give here and, assuming Despaigne did not all of a sudden lose his talent, this looks like a solid spot to rebound. Behind Despaigne sits the worst bullpen in the league (7.69 ERA) so be prepared to sweat them out any time you bet the Wiz.
KT Wiz ML -182, 1U
LG Twins @ Kiwoom Heroes
Uh oh, Roberto Ramos (LG) will face a right-handed pitcher (RHP) tonight which automatically puts him on red alert for homer number 13. Amongst qualified hitters, Ramos ranks second in the KBO in wOBA, behind only the Dinos Jin Sung Kang (NCD) who has basically come out of nowhere. Anyways, the Twins rank above-average in most offensive categories, including both the fourth most R/G and HR/G. Hyun Hee Han (KIW) struggled with the long ball in each of his last two seasons where he had acted with a starter but improved upon those numbers last year when he pitched exclusively out ot the bullpen (0.16 HR/9 rate in 61 appearances). In his first start versus the Twins, Han held them to just eight baseunners and two earned runs (ERs) in five innings in one of only two starts in which he has struck out over four batters. The Twins are amongst the most difficult teams in the league to K (third lowest K rate) so it would be shocking to see Han rack up seven strikeouts again. The advantage should go to the Twins this go-around as they have already seen Han once.
Last night, Byung Ho Park (KIW) and Dong Wan Park (KIW) were both given the night off, which almost assuredly means both will be back hitting towards the middle of the lineup on Sunday morning. Woo Chan Cha (LG) is one of the many pitchers on this slate sporting a FIP over 5.00 dating back to 2018 but his comes in the most extensive of samples. No matter how it is sliced, Cha is a below-average pitcher who has habitually competed for the league-lead (in a bad way) in HR/9 rate allowed. Cha has missed bats this year, which gives him a chance versus the Heroes, but he has also served up exactly one homer in every start (five homers in 27 innings). For fantasy purposes, Cha can put together a respectable outing because he misses enough bats, but his ability to prevent runs is always a question mark. In a game that is tough to handicap one way or the other, expecting both teams to score runs in bunches seems like the safest investment here.
LG Twins/Kiwoom Heroes Over 10.5 Runs, 1U
NC Dinos @ Hanwha Eagles
Oh boy, the Dinos find themselves matched up against a 19-year old pitcher approaching a 6.00 FIP in his young career including a massive 6.82 FIP through five appearances in 2020. In those games, four of which that have been starts, opponents have managed a ridiculous 1.71 HR/9 rate and a BB rate (14.3-percent) nearly equivalent to his K rate. The Dinos have now scored a ridiculous 37 runs over the course of their past three games which equates to an average of 12.3 runs per game (R/G) during that span. Additionally, the Eagles have now lost 13 games in a row, and replaced basically all the coaches other than their manager overnight. Advantage: Dinos.
Jae Hak Lee’s (NCD) 16.8-percent K rate is about average but he is facing the team that strikes out at the highest rate in the league. The Eagles are an extremely left-handed lineup but they average the fewest runs per game, hit the fewest homers per game and walk at the lowest rate in the league. Combine that with the fact their pitcher tonight is awful and this should be another laugher of a game. If there is one worrisome aspect, it is the motivation of the Eagles not to break the record for longest losing streak, but they are quite overmatched here.
NC Dinos ML -230, 3U
NC Dinos/Hanwha Eagles Over 11.5 Runs, 1U
Samsung Lions @ SK Wyverns
Here are the teams that Seung Won Moon (SK) has squared off against to this point (in chronological order): Giants, Dinos, Heroes, Bears and Dinos once again. Despite that extremely difficult schedule, Moon’s FIP sits at under 4.00 this year and he has struck out 21.7-percent of hitters to just a 4.2-percent BB rate. His .369 BABIP allowed far exceeds his career numbers so it is possible the best of Moon is yet to come. The Lions remain without cleanup hitter Won Seok Lee (SAM) so their already below-average offense remains less potent than usual.
Meanwhile, the Wyverns sat Jeong Choi (SK) last night and still managed to win the game, and he likely returns just in time for a matchup versus David Buchanan (SAM). Dating back to the Japanese League, Buchanan rarely ever missed bats, which has been one of the few glaring issues for the Wyverns offense. If not missing their bats, the middle of the offense is loaded with power, and Jamie Romak (SK) homered again last night and Choi’s four-year low in homers has been 29. Buchanan’s last two outings against top teams (Bears, Dinos) have been solid but those were following a 10 ER performance versus the Twins. Also, he allowed nine hits versus the Bears and somehow made it out unscathed which is more luck than anything else. Trust the extended sample of poor pitching for Buchanan and back the Wyverns.
Samsung Lions/SK Wyverns Under 9.5 Runs, 0.5U
SK Wyverns ML +106, 2U
Note: statistics in this article are accurate as of Jun. 6