Bad pitchers are few and far between on this slate. Be prepared to target hitters against talented starters.
Vegas Odds and probables courtesy of Pinnacle:
Chang Mo Koo, NC Dinos, $9,300 DK – If there were ever a time to back the stone chalk pitcher, especially in cash game formats, tonight would be the night. Chang Mo Koo (NCD) versus the Hanwha Eagles is similar to a Chris Sale (BOS) versus the Marlins sort of setup. Not only is Koo proving to be the likely best pitcher in the entire league but the Eagles are absolutely ill-equipped to hit versus left-handed pitching (LHP). The lineup features six lefties and just rolled out a lineup that begun with six lefties versus Eric Jokisch (KIW) a few days ago. Unlike Koo, Jokisch is not a true strikeout pitcher, so his mediocre results (6.0 IP, three earned runs (ERs) and eight baserunners) can be taken with a grain of salt. Thus far, the Eagles have struck out at the highest rate in the league, so Koo’s combination of floor and upside is simply unmatched tonight.
Jong Hoon Park, SK Wyverns, $7,400 DK – For a few weeks now, I have been waiting for the perfect spot to pounce on Jong Hoon Park (SK) and the proper situation has finally emerged. Since most likely do not wake up in the middle of the night each morning to degen the KBO like I do, Park is a submarine style right-handed starter that is easy to run on and tough for right-handed hitters (RHHs) to handle. Not only are the Lions loaded with RHHs (six in the lineup last night including just one of their top four hitters) but they are missing two of their top bats: Ja Wook Koo (SAM) and the recently-injured Won Seok Lee (SAM). Quietly, Park has struck out six-plus batters in all non-Hanwha matchups this year, and the nature of their left-handedness has already been covered in this article. Facing a much more right-handed ball club tonight, Park has a shot to rack up the strikeouts and post a true SP1 performance at just $7,400 on DK.
Drew Gagnon, Kia Tigers, $6,800 DK – To be fair, the whole comparing Drew Gagnon (KIA) to the best pitchers in the MLB thing did not work out his last time out, but despite getting hit hard, Gagnon registered five-plus Ks for the fifth straight game. Currently, Gagnon’s 33.0-percent K rate leads the entire KBO, and he is once again priced as one of the cheapest two pitchers of the night (on DK). Look, the matchup against the Doosan Bears is a difficult one, but Min-woo Lee (KIA) showed last night that talented pitchers can still succeed against one of the league’s offensive juggernauts. Gagnon has a changeup that is uniquely effective against left-handed hitters (LHHs) so the fact the the Bears lineup is so lefty-heavy is theoretically not as big of a problem for him as it would be for other right-handed pitchers (RHPs). In a small MLB sample, Gagnon was blasted by lefties (.509 wOBA in 12.2 IP), but ex-teammates suggest he has since adjusted his changeup grip and the pitch is a force to be reckoned with. The Bears are a tough team to whiff (league-low 14.8-percent K rate), but if you keep playing one of the best pitchers in the league at a basement price, he eventually is going to make it worth your while.
Honorable Mentions: Chae Heung Choi (SAM) had been rolling until his last time out and now will take on a Wyverns team that has struck out at the second highest rate in the league. In other words, this could be a nice bounce-backspot for another cheap starter and, speaking of cheap starters, Dan Straily (LOT) is only priced at $7,000 on DK in his own right. Lately, the Wiz’s K rate has spiked up, and Straily’s upside clearly exceeds his price point.
Death, taxes and the Dinos offense garnering ownership are the three surest things in life but chalk is most often necessary in the KBO. The disrepency in talent between the top offenses and the bottom tier offenses is much greater than that in the MLB so playing upper-echelon teams is going to have a higher success rate in this league (especially with only 10 total teams to choose from on a given night). Opposing starter Chad Bell (HAN) owns the fifth highest FIP of any starting pitcher on the slate dating back to 2018 but he arguably faces the toughest opponents. The Dinos are an offensive machine right now having scored 8-plus runs in four of their last five games (averaging 10.2 runs per (R/G) during that span). Righties Eu Ji Yang (NCD) and KBO leader in wOBA Jin Sung Kang (NCD) highlight the obvious options to target but it should be noted lefty Sung Bum Na (NCD) has excelled in the split. Despite hitting from the left side of the plate, Na has already launched four bombs off LHP and is hitting .400 in the split. Min Woo Park (NCD) is left-handed as well and hitting .296 with two homers versus righties and Aaron Altherr (NCD) is starting to find his way. Expect this lineup to be the stone chalk but they are just so tough to fade these days.
The logical alternative, or even complement, to the Dinos is none other than the LG Twins versus clear worst pitcher on the slate Seung Ho Lee (KIW). Dating back 190.2 innings, Lee has been blasted to the tune of a slate-worst 5.04 FIP and 1.09 HR/9 rate to go along with just a 16.2-percent K rate. Twins catcher Kang Nam Yoo (LG) is 7-13 off southpaws this year (.538 AVG) with three homers and seven RBI so he stands out at the clear top target. Roberto Ramos (LG) features a wOBA baseline over .470, even against LHP, in the DailyRoto model and he is the next highest priority versus a power-prone pitcher. The issue with the Twins is their two best hitters are of the left-handed variety and the rest of the righties have displayed mixed results in the split. Eun Sung Chae (LG) left last night’s ballgame with a potential knee injury so he may not even make the lineup tonight. The lack of depth in this lineup is a concern but the top of the lineup plus Yoo are as intriuging of targets as anyone on the slate.
Tyler Wilson (LG) is by no means a gas can but the Heroes are only listed as slight underdogs in the game with the highest projected total on the slate…and they have been en fuego. The return of former MVP Keon Chang Seo (KIW) only gives this deep offense yet another dimension that has already been rolling thanks to Ha Seong Kim (KIW), Jung Ho Lee (KIW), Byung Ho Park (KIW) and Dong Wan Park (KIW). Wilson is a strikethrower who will challenge hitters and the entire top of the lineup has the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Wilson’s results have been mixed this year as he is not surprising hitters now that he has two years of sample in the league. This year alone, his FIP sits at 4.24 and that is with hitters having posted just a .267 BABIP (career-low) against him. Wilson is not one of the American pitchers who will blow the by past opponents and that is a scary proposition versus a powerful Heroes lineup.
Honorable mention: SK Wyverns’ two top hitters are right-handed so the platoon edge versus Samsung’s Choi puts Jeong Choi (SK) and Jamie Romak (SK) in sneaky favorable spots.