Weather may be an issue tonight but the forecast has improved as the day has gone on. There are massive favorites tonight and there is a game that is a true 50/50 so there are plenty of different projected game scripts to choose from if betting on this slate.
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):
Hanwha Eagles @ Kia Tigers
As always, analyzing the Eagles offense is a bit of a bore, especially until ex-MLB player Brandon Barnes (HAN) finishes his quarantine and can join the lineup. Sans a foreign player to enhance the lineup, the league-worst Eagles offense is in trouble versus most opponents, and Ki Young Im (KIA) is no different. Amongst all qualified pitchers, I’m’s 3.13 FIP this season is tied for fifth best in the KBO (along with Eric Jokisch (KIW) of the Heroes) and his 4.0-percent BB rate leads the league. As if that were not enough, Im’s 24.3-percent K rate ranks third best amongst qualified starters, so he has pitched as well as anyone in the Tigers’ loaded rotation (maybe best of the bunch). Meanwhile, the Eagles rank dead last in both runs per game (R/G) and K rate while producing the lowest HR/9 in the league by a wide margin. Yet again, the Eagles should struggle mightily to manufacture runs.
On the Tigers side of the ball, they will square off versus a pitcher that sports a 6.21 ERA and 5.16 FIP through 37.2 this season. The issue for the Tigers is the fact that Shi Hwan Jang (HAN) misses bats (24.2-percent). However, the Tigers offense is one of the most patient in the league (9.2-percent BB rate) and Chang’s 13.2-percent BB rate ranks second worst amongst pitchers with a 30-plus inning sample size in 2020. Furthermore, the Eagles have been by far the worst defense in the KBO, ranking 25 runs below the league average in defensive runs saved. As icing on the cake, the Eagles bullpen sits at eighth in the league in bullpen ERA (5.88), so the pitchers that will pitch after Jang leaves are tough to rely on as well. This is an extremely lopsided game on paper and -225 does not do the level of lopsidedness justice. Back the Tigers.
Kia Tigers -225 ML, 3U
KT Wiz @ LG Twins
Young (18-years old), up-and-comer Min-ho Lee (LG) is scheduled to make his next start despite the fact the team is acutely-focused on limiting his workload. Lee had been sent down to the Futures League before returning on Jun. 21 to hold the Bears to just two runs (but eight baserunners) in five innings. Just like the Bears were no easy task, the same can be said for the Wiz who rank third in the league in R/G and second in HR/9 rate. Objectively, Lee has been a bit lucky, as his -1.98 ERA-FIP (E-F) suggests. Only seven pitchers rank below Lee in E-F (min. 20 IP) but Lee’s FIP is still respectable (3.57). To this point, Lee has yet to allow a home run (HR), but that will be a tough baseline for him to maintain against a lineup that features Mel Rojas Jr. (KTW) and Baek Ho Kang (KTW).
As for the Twins, they will face Min Soo Kim (KTW) coming off his deepest start of the year. Kim had been making the transformation from bullpen arm to starter and held the Dinos to just three runs (one earned) in 6.1 innings his last time out. In that start, Kim exceeded that 85-pitch plateau for the first time all year en route to 95-pitches versus the Dinos. Overall, Kim has looked like nothing more than an average pitcher, owning a 13.6-percent K rate, 4.54 FIP and 1.01 HR/9 rate. Behind Kim awaits one of the worst bullpens in the league (second worst ERA) and Roberto Ramos (LG) has been way too quiet as of late. The Twins are the more complete ball club and, while this game is low confidence for me, I slightly prefer the Twins.
LG Twins ML -148, 0.5U
Lotte Giants @ NC Dinos
Lately, the Dinos bullpen has been imploding, and they have sunk to the bottom of the league in bullpen ERA. It seemed impossible that any team would catch the Wiz’s putrid bullpen and yet it only took a week for the Dinos to reach dead last in the ERA category. Mike Wright (NCD) continues to look like a fraudulent pitcher whose 3.60 ERA is inflated due to a string of good luck. In nine starts, Wright has walked opposing batters at a double-digit rate and has allowed nearly one HR per inning en route to a 4.85 FIP. Last time out, Wright rebounded from a disastrous start versus the Tigers to hold the Wiz to just one run (but nine baserunners) in 5.0 innings. Strangely, an extremely right-handed Giants lineup has fared better against right-handed pitching (RHP) this year, so this matchup is not as lopsided as the odds-makers are giving it credit for.
Of course, where the Dinos have an extreme advantage is on the offensive side of the ball, as the Giants are essentially relying on a bullpen day. Dae-woo Kim (LOT) will make the start for the Giants after appearing in 14 separate games this year all as a reliever. For his career, Kim has made 23 appearances, and not one of them has been a start to this point. In other words, he will assuredly be on a pitch count, and then the Giants will dive into their bullpen that has managed a 4.63 ERA (third best in the league). The bullpen will definitely be tested tonight but, instead of laying -290 odds on the favorite, why not just take the over instead?
Lotte Giants/NC Dinos Over 10.5-Runs -116, 1U
Doosan Bears @ Kiwoom Heroes
Ha Seong Kim (KIW) has been placed on the injured list which removes the top bat in the lineup for the foreseeable future. Fortunately for the Heroes, ByungHo Park (KIW) had come back from the inactive list with a vengeance (six game hitting streak to start) but is now 0-8 over the course of his last two games. Addison Russell (KIW) will not be ready until the middle of July but at least Hui Kwan Yu (DOO) is bordering on gas can. Yu hardly ever misses bats (10.4-percent K rate) and is consequently susceptible to power (0.92 HR/9 rate, .348 wOBA allowed and .149 ISO allowed since 2018). Even with Kim out, Park and catcher Dong Wan Park (KIW) are both serious power threats in the split against LHP, and Hye Sung Kim (KIW) has at least proven to be an ample backup at shortstop.
Amongst all the true starters on the slate, Seung Ho Lee (KIW) has been the most consistently subpar pitcher of tthe bunch. Dating back to 2018, Lee has yielded a 4.89 FIP while only striking out 15.7-percent of opposing batters and walking 9.5-percent during that span. The Bears are an extremely left-handed bunch but Kun Woo Park (DOO) has posted a hard hit rate over 40-percent against LHP. Jae Hwan Kim (DOO) specifically has proven tthe spit against LHP does not matter to him either as he has already hit five homers in the split. Unfortunately, shortstop Jae Ho Kim (DOO) is dealing with a shoulder injury and will not play tonight, and that takes a hitter with a .321/.389/.400 slash line out of the lineup. Once Lee is out of the game, the Heroes bullpen is looking like tops in the league, leading all bullpens in ERA by over one-tenth of a run. This game is the only pick’em of the night and Lee/Yu are almost equally as terrible. While the Bears lineup is better, each offense is suffering through an injury, and the Heroes bullpen is night-and-day better. Even without the superstar Kim active, the Heroes are still the safer gamble.
Kiwoom Heroes ML -110, 1U
SK Wyverns @ Samsung Lions
Chae-heung Choi’s (SAM) ERA sits nearly a full run and a half under his FIP this season which means his day of reckoning is coming soon. Tonight may be the night as the two top bats in the Wyverns lineup hit from the right side of the plate and will own the platoon edge versus Choi. Over the course of the Samsung starter’s last 173.1 IP, Choi has allowed a massive .155 ISO, and he has lost his control so far this year (10.8-percent BB rate). While the team’s bullpen is lights out, the Wyverns are a team to target when they likely will not be striking out much. Choi misses bats at a below-average rate (17.4-percent rate this year) so this appears to be a spot to pounce.
The Lions is offense is average in nearly every offensive category but the main question on this side of the matchup is which Jong Hoon Park (SK) shows up. In his last start, the submarine style starting pitcher could not find the strike zone and had a difficult time missing bats against the team with the lowest strikeout rate in the league (Bears). Pitchers are tough to rely on coming off a beatdown as research has proven they are more susceptible to a poor start immediately following a blow-up. Having said that, the Lions strike out at about a league-average rate, and most of the middle of their lineup is of the right-handed variety (unlike the Bears). Over time, Park is likely to produce superior numbers in the split against RHP, as has been the case for all MLB submariners. The correction in his splits came last time out and he is now allowing an AVG 30-percentage points lower for righties. All of this is a long-winded way of saying tonight’s matchup is vastly superior to his last one and he is being priced like a subpar pitcher in the bettting markets despite his 22.8-percent K rate this year. There is too much value to pass on with a pitcher whose ERA is nearly a run and a half lower than his FIP.
SK Wyverns ML +118, 1U
SK Wyverns/Samsung Lions Over 9.5-Runs -106, 1U