Wednesday, June 24th Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Betting Guide
Weather looks like it is almost assuredly going to cause problems acorss the entire KBO tonight. If betting the games instead of playing daily fantasy, the only concern will be whether the games reach official status as opposed to what stats are racked up prior to postponement (if any of the games are forced into such an outcome). Some recognizable American pitchers appear on the slate for those unfamiliar with the league to bet/watch and most of the games are expected to be high-scoring if they do, in fact, play.
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):
Hanwha Eagles @ Samsung Lions
With Chae Heung Choi (SAM) on the mound last night, who by the way is over a 5.00 FIP pitcher, the Lions shutdown the lowly Eagles lineup for six innings prior to their league-best bullpen entering the fray. The bullpen ending up allowing three runs in three innings to a team that barely averages over 3.0 runs per game (R/G) and strikes out at by far the highest rate in the league…without a foreign player in the lineup. Earlier in the week, the Eagles waived Jared Hoying (HAN) and signed Brandon Barnes (HAN) to take his place, but Barnes will need to quarantine for 14-days before he can make his debut (per the league rules). The problem betting against the Eagles tonight is the face Lions starter Yoon Dong Heo (SAM) is the clear worst starting pitcher of the night with a KBO K rate under 6.0-percent and FIP over 6.50. Since the Eagles sent down half their lineup, they have become more right-handed, but still start their lineup with two lefties and include a total of four. Facing a southpaw is not an ideal setup, but the Eagles rarely feature any semblance of upside, so consider tonight an exception against a total gas can.
On the Lions side of the ball, Shi Hwan Jang (HAN) is the slated starter for the Eagles, and he is a bit tough to handicap. Unlike most of the other starters in the rotation, Jang can miss bats, as his 22.3-percent K rate ranks eighth best amongst starting pitchers with at least 30 innings of sample this season. However, his 13.9-percent BB rate also ranks second worst amongst those same starting pitchers, so Jang is a true Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Basically across the board, the Lions rank as a league-average offense using full seasonal numbers, but the offense has improved since the return of Ja Wook Koo (SAM). Heading into tonight, the Lions have scored 23-runs over the course of their last two games alone, but -174 is way too high. The value in betting this game lands on the Hanwha side of the ball, but if scared of betting their moneyline, take the over in the game instead as neither starting pitcher strikes fear in the heart of their opponents.
Hanwha Eagles ML +142, 0.5U
Hanwha Eagles/Samsung Lions Over 10.5-Runs -118, 1U
Kia Tigers @ Lotte Giants
Five teams average more R/G than the Tigers 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, which is great to know versus an offense that features power bats Preston Tucker (KIA), Hyung Woo Choi (KIA) and Ji Wan Na (KIA). Behind Straily, the bullpen behind him is around league-average, but nothing jumps off the page for Kia’s offense.
As for the Giants offense, they will square off against Min Woo Lee (KIA) who began the season hot but has fallen off a cliff over his last three starts. During that span, Lee has allowed 25 baserunners and 15 earned runs (ERs) with just a 10.0-percent K rate in 15.0 innings. Leadoff man Ah Seop Son (LOT) returned to the lineup last night which is massive as he leads the Giants in wRC+ (145), wOBA (.412) and OBP (.436). Kia’s bullpen is also league-average but the difference in quality of starting pitcher tells the story here. Back the Giants.
Lotte Giants ML -170, 2U
NC Dinos @ KT Wiz
Zero teams have hit more home runs (HRs) nor averaged more R/G than the Dinos which is a scary proposition versus a pitcher with over a 2.00 WHIP in 12 appearances this year. No, 12 appearances is not a typo, as Min Soo Kim (KTW) began the year as a reliever and has been forced to transition into a starting role. Despite starting the last three games he has appeared in, he has only averaged 69 pitches per game during that stretch and topped out at 85. After Kim inevitably leaves the ballgame, the Wiz bullpen is by far the worst in the league, as their ERA is nearly a full run worse (6.78) than the next worst team (5.97). Even as a road team, there is not much of a discount for the Dinos, who sit at -174.
Mike Wright (NCD) is a strange pitcher and is one of only 10 in the KBO whose FIP is a full run higher than his ERA. Unlike fellow ex-Baltimore Oriole Straily, the transition to this league has not been smooth sailing for Wright and his double-digit BB rate. Although Wright has not exactly allowed a ton of hard contact (15.0-percent hard hit rate), nor a ton of power (.121 ISO against), he has not struck out hitters at an elite rate like some of his American counterparts. The Wiz and Heroes are battling it out for the second highest HR/9 rate in the league but it is somewhat comforting to see the Wiz’s K rate rising as of late if looking to bet the Dinos. Wright was blasted for seven ERs his last time out and pitchers are proven to be more likely for a blow-up in the start following a blow-up. Instead of investing too much in another heavy favorite, take the over instead.
NC Dinos/KT Wiz Over 10.5 Runs -116, 1U
NC Dinos ML -174, 0.5U
Doosan Bears @ SK Wyverns
Wyverns starter Jong Hoon Park (SK) has been broken down in this article before, but for those new to this column, Park is a righty submarine style starting pitcher. The MLB has exactly zero of those to offer so there are no real comparable players but all the submarine relievers in recent MLB history have posted superior numbers against those without the platoon edge against them. Logically, that makes sense, as the pitcher is able to hide the ball for longer against them and sliders/breaking balls move away from them (instead of towards them). Righties have only hit .236 against Park this year but lefties have struck out at a higher rate and have only produced two extra-base hits (XBH) against him (both homers). The Bears are a lineup loaded with left-handed hitters (LHHs) so something has got to give here. Jae Hwan Kim’s (DOO) bat has woken back up lately and that is a tough pill to swallow for those praying the Bears bats can be silenced for a night (as they have now scored seven-plus runs in four of their last five games). The problem for Park is he relies on strikeouts and no team strikes out at a lower rate than the Bears.
Meanwhile, the Wyverns will draw one of the weakest starters in the Bears rotation: Hui Kwan Yu (DOO). Dating back to the start of the 2018 season, Yu has struck out just 10.5-percent of the hitters he has faced and yielded a terrible .146 ISO (nearly the worst on the slate). Furthermore, Yu is a southpaw, and the middle of the Wyverns lineup features some power-hitting righties in Jamie Romak (SK) and Jeong Choi (SK). The Wyverns have struck out at the second highest rate in the league, but Yu rarely misses bats, so an outlier performance is within the realm of possibilities here. Add in the fact the Bears rank seventh in bullpen ERA and there is some value in betting the Wyverns with one of their best starting pitchers on the mound. Also, the offensive matchups are too good to pass on both sides, and the over is the best bet in this entire game.
Doosan Bears/SK Wyverns Over 10.5 Runs -104, 2U
SK Wyverns ML +116, 1U
Kiwoom Heroes @ LG Twins
ByungHo Park (KIW), welcome back to the 2020 season! Following a slow start to the year, Park was removed from the roster, and has returned in a big way. In the three games since his return, Park has hit safely in each, and has hit three total homers (including two last night). Addison Russell’s (KIW) debut is on the horizon but he is not quite ready yet for Wednesday’s tilt against Tyler Wilson (LG). Unquestionably, Wilson is an upper-echelon pitcher in this league, as he rarely walks hitters and has done an excellent job limiting power. The power bats have woken up for the Heroes but Park has done so in some plus matchups for him. Thus far, Wilson has not pitched any deeper than six innings, and he has failed to reach 100-pitches in two of his last three. Still, the bullpen behind him is one of the best in the league (4.61 ERA), but has been rocky the past few weeks.
Lefties are the preferable handedness of pitcher to bet on versus the Twins because top hitters in the lineup Hyun Soo Kim (LG) and Roberto Ramos (LG) are both left-handed. Mind you, Kang Nam Yoo (LG) has been one of the best hitters in the split versus LHP: .545 AVG, three HRs and 11 RBI. The Twins’ lineup is deep, bullpen is good and they are tossing one of their best starting pitchers. Recency bias will probably lead people to the red-hot Heroes but Seung Ho Lee (KIW) has been blasted for nearly a 1.0 HR/9 rate and .143 ISO over a two-plus year sample. There is not much value in the -142 line for the Twins so this is simply a low confidence game for me. If I had to choose, I would take the Twins, but the Heroes +116 with Park looking like a beast again is tough to pass on.
LG Twins ML -142, 0.5U