Welcome to arguably the deepest pitching slate of the year. Only one pitcher on the slate owns a FIP over 4.22 over their past three years of sample in the KBO and only three pitchers have posted a FIP over 4.00. Today may be a day to consider mini-stacking instead of full-blown stacks as the odds of a starter completely imploding are lower usual due to the overall talent of arms slated to pitch.
Vegas Odds and probables courtesy of Pinnacle:
Chang Mo Koo, NC Dinos, $9,700 DK/$27 FD – Last start, Chang Mo Koo’s (NCD) main downfall, lack of control, reared its ugly head, and Koo still found a way to allow just one earned run (ER) in 7.0 innings. Yes, Koo walked four Kiwoom Heroes in that start and still finished with seven Ks and 27.6 DK fantasy points (after the win). In fact, over his last 269.0 innings, Koo has walked 8.8-percent of the hitters he has faced and has yielded a slate-worst 1.04 HR/9 rate. Judging by those numbers alone, the matchup versus the Lions is not as special as it may seem since they have walked at the third highest rate in the league. Still, the Lions have struck out at a rate around the league average and have hit the fourth fewest home runs (HRs) per game (HR/G). On most other slates, Koo would rate as the outlier top option, but there are so many of the biggest names in the league set to pitch tonight. Koo’s ownership should still be substantial but a loss of control for the second consecutive game could cause some issues for him.
Chris Flexen, Doosan Bears, $8,600 DK/$25 FD – In the absolute nuts matchup on Tuesday, Chris Flexen (DOO) disappointed in a big way, allowing three earned runs (ERs) in six innings versus the lowly SK Wyverns. While the Lotte Giants do not rank dead last in runs per game (R/G) like the Wyverns did, their offense has slowed down big time, scoring over two runs just once in their last six games. Literally all the top bats on the Giants are of the right-handed variety other than Ah Seop Son (LOT) so they are almost assuredly better-equipped to rake against left-handed pitchers (LHPs). Flexen is $800 cheaper than Koo, which could go a long way on this slate, and Flexen has displayed similar upside to Koo when running hot. Facing one of the league’s worst offenses yet again, fantasy owners need to have a short memory and should feel confident going right back to him.
Drew Gagnon, Kia Tigers, $6,700 DK/$27 FD – How do I put this without being dramatic? Well, Drew Gagnon’s (KIA) price is probably the most egregious of the year, including that stretch where Roberto Ramos (LG) was priced at $3,000 on DK, as this is an ace priced as the cheapest pitcher of the night. Gagnon’s changeup is an MLB-quality pitch so it naturally is going to baffle hitters in a less competitive league. According to @qopbaseball on Twitter, Gagnon’s horizontal break on his changeup ranked in the top 16-percent of the MLB and his location ranked in the top 18-percent. To put that differently, Gagnon created an excellent amount of break on the pitch and was able to control it at a high level even by MLB standards. Clearly, Gagnon is emerging as one of the best pitchers in the entire league so this would sort of be like getting Walker Buehler (LAD) at the cheapest price of the night in a MLB DFS slate. This matchup is by no means perfect, as the LG Twins feature Ramos hitting in the middle of the lineup, but it should be noted Hyun Soo Kim (LG) left last night’s game with injury. If he were to miss tonight, the matchup would only get enhanced, and it is tough to imagine fading Gagnon at this price regardless.
Honorable Mention: Dan Straily (LOT) versus a suddenly struggling Doosan Bears offense and both Jong Hoon Park (SK)/Chad Bell (HAN) in a matchup between two of the least potent offenses in the league.
Seung Ho Lee (KIW) represents the clear worst starting pitcher on the slate as he has been burned for a 3.94 FIP, 0.96 HR/9 rate and 9.72-percent BB rate over the course of his last 180.2 IP. The injuries to both Baek Ho Kang (KTW) and Han Joon Yoo (KTW) have not helped the depth of this lineup and yet the team still ranks second in R/G. Mel Rojas Jr. (KTW) is the clear top target in the lineup as he has hit .440 in a tiny sample versus LHP this year and owns a .413 wOBA baseline against southpaws in the DailyRoto model. Former MLBer Jae-Gyun Hwang (KTW) is next up in terms of wOBA baselines in the split and Jeong-dae Bae (KTW) is another enticing option for cheap. Lee is susceptible to power and the middle of this lineup still possesses the ability to provide the thunder despite the absences of two of their top assets.
Two players on the Dinos consistently appear on lists identifying the top MLB prospects in the league. Both those players, Sung Bum Na (NCD) and Min Woo Park (NCD), hit from the left side of the plate. Left-handed Chae Heung Choi (SAM) is slated to start for the Lions and he has been lights out to begin the year; he has held opponents to a .167 AVG, has posted a K rate approaching 20-percent and is sitting pretty with a 1.88 ERA. However, his FIP is over two full runs higher than his ERA, which makes sense given his .203 BABIP allowed and 11.5-percent BB rate. A talented offense like the Dinos should help speed up the regression process as Aaron Altherr (NCD), Eu Ji Yang (NCD) and Jin Sung Kang (NCD) are all dangerous hitters in their own right. The Dinos lead the league in R/G and another productive showing is expected from them tonight.
Are the Eagles amongst the most talented offenses in the league? Of course not but they are amongst the most left-handed offenses in the entire league. Even against LHPs, the team typically rolls out six lefties in the lineup, which uniquely qualifies them to compete versus submariner Jong Hoon Park (SK). In a small sample, Park has been hit slightly harder by righties this year but logic dictates lefties will have an easier time hitting a right-handed submariner over the long run. By comparison, Byung Hun Kim yielded a .291 wOBA to right-handed hitters (RHHs) during his MLB career and a .372 wOBA to left-handed hitters (LHHs). Chad Bradford, whose release point is probably the most comparable to Park’s, held righties to a .262 wOBA while lefties posted a .355 wOBA. Over time, I expect this to be the trend with Park, and the Eagles began their lineup with six straight lefties last night. Even their best hitter, Jared Hoying (HAN), probably comes in around 10-percent ownership, so even a mini-stack of this team is fine if trying to differentiate from the field.
Honorable mention: This SK Wyverns feature a pair of powerful right-handed bats (Jamie Romak (SK) and Jeong Choi (SK)) that match up nicely against left-handed Chad Bell (HAN) who has only flirted with a 4.00 FIP since joining the KBO. Furthermore, the Doosan Bears should come at muted ownership versus Dan Straily (LOT) whose volatile nature has continued in the KBO.