Tonight’s KBO slate is headlined by one game with an outlier total (11.5 over/under) and there is only one game on the slate featuring an 8.5-run total. Only one starter on the slate has posted a FIP below 4.00 during their tenure in the KBO.
Hanwha Eagles @ NC Dinos
Jared Hoying (HAN) returned to the Hanwha Eagles lineup this week and the team had scored nine and five runs respectively in back-to-back games before getting shut out last night. On Sunday, the NC Dinos will toss ex-Baltimore Oriole Mike Wright (NCD) who has thrown an average of 107.5 pitches per start over the course of his last two. Wright is a name bettors will want to target, and his K rate jumps off the page (24.4-percent), but he has not pitched as well as his 2.45 ERA indicates. The 4.65 FIP tells a bit of a different story as he has been susceptible to the long ball (1.64 HR/9 rate) in the early-going. Unfortunately for the Eagles, they have hit the fewest homers in the league, so if that is Wright’s weakness, they are the least likely team to be able to exploit it.
That brings us to the heaviest favorite on the slate who will square off against Shi Hwan Jang (HAN). One positive for those potentially looking to target an underdog is the Dinos will possibly be without star catcher Eu Ji Yang (NCD). A neck injury forced Yang to leave last night’s ballgame versus the Eagles but the lineup is still very deep. To this point, four players in the lineup have hit at least two homers, two hitters other than Jang have drove in double-digit runs and five players are hitting over .300. Still, there is no real value in laying -260. Jang has posted the second highest K rate of any pitcher on the slate and the Dinos’ 19-plus percent K rate ranks third highest in the league. Therefore, instead of targeting a massive favorite, the preferential move here would be to pound the under and hope Jang holds his own (and can miss enough bats to keep this game under 10 runs).
Hanwha Eagles/NC Dinos Under 9.5 Runs -128, 1U
Kia Tigers @ SK Wyverns
Every single starter on this slate is right-handed and Wyverns starter Ricardo Pinto (SK) is no different. That means Preston Tucker (KIA) and Hyung Woo Choi (KIA) should feel comfortable at the plate versus a pitcher whose FIP is over a full run higher than his ERA. In time, Pinto’s 95-plus mph fastball should play well in this league but he is going to need to hone his control first (13.5-percent BB rate so far at the KBO level). Only Choi hit double-digit homers on this team last year and they finished near the bottom in SLG. Obviously, the addition of Tucker has been massive, but the offense is still lacking true depth. As bad as Pinto’s underlying numbers have been, he has yet to allow a HR yet, despite a nearly 1:2 K/BB ratio. This may be the single most difficult offense to handicap as Pinto is overrated but the Tigers offense is nothing more than average.
As for the Wyverns side of things, Min Woo Lee (KIA) is the starter tasked with slowing them down, and he is a pitcher sporting a 1.75 WHIP, 10-plus percent BB rate and 4.18 FIP since the start of the 2018 season. To put it differently, his FIP is nearly two full runs below his ERA (6.07) during that span, so he is a pitcher that has dealt with some bad luck (obviously due to some fault of his own considering that massive BB rate). Jamie Romak (SK) is legit, and Dong Min Han (SK) has been streaking (.321/.377/.717) to begin the year, but there is not a lot to get excited about on this side of the game either. Betting on Pinto is a scary proposition so, by default, I would take the Tigers here and hope for one of those patented, massive Tucker games that has become a common occurrence multiple times per week.
Kia Tigers ML -148, 1U
KT Wiz @ LG Twins
Once again, the Wiz find themselves matched up versus a power-prone opposing pitcher and the absences of Baek Ho Kang (KTW) and Jae Gyun Hwang (KTW) did not slow down the offense on Friday. Instead, they still managed 10 hits and six runs on the heels of a double dong night from Mel Rojas Jr. (KTW) who is going to have to carry the offense in the near future. Even without a pair of their top hitters, this lineup still packs some punch, with five remaining players averaging over eight DK fantasy points per game and seven of them averaging over seven. From a fantasy perspective, Chan Gyu Lim (LG) has started the year quite well, averaging 6.5 Ks per start and posting a 3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 27.1-percent K rate through two starts. It should be noted he has faced two of the worst offenses in the league (Samsung Lions, SK Wyverns) so this start can be considered his first real test.
Poor Eun Sung Chae (LG) highlighted a horrific offensive showing from the LG Twins last night as he came up with runners on base every single at-bat (AB) and finished 0-5 with zero RBI. The task does not get any easier for the Twins tonight against William Cuevas (KTW) who owns a sub-4.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP since joining the KBO. Top hitters Hyun Soo Kim (LG) and Roberto Ramos (LG) own the platoon advantage against him and Cuevas is susceptible to the long ball (0.92 HR/9 rate). Strangely, the matchup looks tougher on paper for the LG Twins than it does for the Wiz and the Wiz are listed as underdogs in this game. The underdogs are a solid value to attack.
KT Wiz ML +102, 2U
Doosan Bears @ Samsung Lions
Jose Miguel Fernandez (DOO) is on another level comparatively to the other hitters in the KBO as he registered another four hits last evening, including another bomb, en route to his third straight three-plus hit, at least one RBI and run scored game. Through 68 AB, Fernandez is slashing an otherworldly .500/.547/.779 with four HRs and 17 RBI. Now, poor David Buchanan (SAM) will be tasked with slowing down an offense that leads the league in R/G and has struck out at the lowest rate of any team in the KBO (14.2-percent). Hitters like Fernandez, Joo Hwan Choi (DOO) and Jae Hwan Kim (DOO), aka the 2-3-4 hitters in the lineup, all own the platoon advantage against Buchanan whose one solid outing is propelling his numbers to look better than they actually are. During his days in the Japanese League, Buchanan never struck out more than 5.2 batters per nine innings in any season, and it is unlikely he strikes out many batters tonight. Relying on the Bears hitters’ contact to register outs is like relying on Batman relying on “The Joker” to turn himself in. It is truly a dangerous proposition.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Lions are an offensively devoid squad that has allowed the third most runs per nine innings of any team as well. It is consequently unsurprising to find this team well under .500 (5-11) and listed as a hefty +156 underdog versus the Bears. Probable starter Young Ha Lee (DOO) is one of the rare starters whose ERA exactly matches his FIP (4.27) over an extended period of time (his last 297.1 IP). Lee has struggled with control (9.5-percent BB rate) and does not miss many bats (14.3-percent K rate) and that is before discussing a bullpen that has contributed to the Bears allowing the most runs per nine innings of any team. The over/under in this game is the highest of the night (11.5-runs) and still does not appear to be high enough in a battle between two mediocre-at-best starting pitchers.
Doosan Bears/Samsung Lions Over 11.5 Runs -128, 1U
Kiwoom Heroes @ Lotte Giants
After getting ruled out for the entire weekend, Ha Seong Kim (KIW) surprisingly returned to the lineup last night and ended up 3-4 with a HR, two RBI, three runs and a whopping 30 DK fantasy points. His return to the lineup is a gigantic development as he is widely viewed as the top MLB prospect in the entire league. Tonight, a once again potent Kiwoom lineup will take on the clear worst starting pitcher on the entire slate: Jun Won Seo (LOT). Over the course of Seo’s last 108.0 innings, he has been burned for a slate-worst 4.84 FIP and has produced an unimpressive 66:43 K/BB ratio. After finishing the 2019 season with a 5.47 ERA and 1.60 WHIP, those numbers once again look ugly this year (7.20 ERA, 1.73 WHIP). The offense is in a prime spot to produce.
As for the Lotte Giants, they will face a starting pitcher who was expected to be amongst the best in the league but has dealt with some mixed results. Opposing starter Won Tae Choi (KIW) is coming off his worst outing of the season versus a SK Wyverns offense that has struck out at the highest rate and averaged the fewest R/G. Considering his extended sample in the KBO, last start should be considered nothing more than a blip on the radar, especially considering the opponent. Since their hot start, the Giants have slowed down considerably, averaging just 3.25 R/G over the course of their last eight games. By comparison, the Wyverns currently rank dead last in the league at 3.6 R/G, and the Giants’ recent stretch is significantly worse. Fantasy owners and bettors should go right back to Choi following the disappointing outing. This is one of the few scenarios where fantasy owners can consider giving 1.5-runs to get some better odds because, on paper, this game should not be close.
Kiwoom Heroes -1.5 -132, 1U