Vegas Odds and probables courtesy of Pinnacle:
Jae Hak Lee, NC Dinos, $9,700 DK/$27 FD – Realistically, Jae Hak Lee (NC) is a bit overpriced for a pitcher who sports a career 4.27 ERA and 1.38 WHIP but the matchup is ripe and there are so few encouraging alternatives on this slate. To start the year, the SK Wyverns have been an absolute mess, losing seven of their first eight games and averaging the fewest runs per game (3.25). Lee is 29-years old and has seen his K rate depreciate in back-to-back years but still owns a respectable career K/9 of 7.9. Last season, Lee posted a FIP under 4.00, which is actually quite rare in this league, so the matchup and skill set combined is quite comforting on a slate without much pitching comfort.
Dan Straily, Lotte Giants, $7,000 DK/$25 FD – I do not want to oversell this but Dan Straily (LOT) may be the clearest pitching play to date. It would not be surprising to see him 100-percent owned in cash games on DK as he is coming off an 11 K dominance over the SK Wyverns and now faces the team that has hit the fewest homers in the KBO to this point: Hanwha Eagles. Looking back at last year, the Eagles ranked ninth in the league in both SLG and OPS plus they walked just the third fewest times and were one of three teams to hit fewer than 90 homers. When Straily goes bad, it is via the longball and a loss of control, and the Eagles are not true threats to take advantage of either of those weaknesses. Straily is likely $2,000-plus underpriced in this spot.
Hyeong Jun So, KT Wiz, $6,000 DK/$21 FD – Although So is listed as a relief pitcher on DK, the 18-year old is clearly a starter, as he began his KBO career by shutting down a dangerous Doosan squad. In five innings of work (84 pitches), So held the Bears to five hits, one walked and two earned runs (ERs) with two strikeouts and an 8:4 GB/FB ratio. Tonight, he matches up against a Samsung squad missing one of their top hitters (Tyler Saladino) and they already have struck out 68 times (second most in the KBO). It is hard to trust an 18-year old to be consistent, but this kid appears to be talented, and it would be tough to ask for a better matchup. If he truly is legit, now is the time to take a shot on him, as Lee should garner significant ownership (potentially over 50-percent in GPP).
Honorable mention: N/A
At this point, it seems sacrilegious to start a KBO article with any stack but the Doosan Bears, but they finally have competition for top stack of the evening. Opposing starter Seung-won Moon (SK) is one of the few KBO pitchers who has struggled mightily to keep the ball in the ballpark. For his career, Moon has allowed 1.5 homers per nine innings, and his 1.4 HR/9 rate allowed last year ranked dead last amongst all pitchers who made at least one start. Oh, by the way, this offense features the likes of MLB prospect Sung Bum Na (NC), ex-MLB player Aaron Altherr (NC), top catcher in the league Eul Ji-Yang (NC) and other upper-echelon hitters (Sok-min Park, Jin Hyuk No). If the masses are going to gravitate towards the Bears once again, the Dinos are an extremely strong alternative.
By now, writing up the Doosan Bears feels like lazy analysis, but they are the goliaths of this league. Tonight, they will also face an opposing starter that has failed to post a FIP under 5.00 in either of the past two seasons and a pitcher who has allowed 27 HRs over the course of his last 153.2 IP (1.59 HR/9 during that span). Additionally, Ki Young Im, or as he is referred to on FanGraphs, “Gi-yeong Im“, has posted a WHIP over 1.70 in back-to-back seasons as well. The Bears are facing a subpar pitcher, so if you want to play the chalk, go right ahead. Yet again, the Bears look like one of the strongest plays on the slate.
In his first game of the 2020 campaign, EE Hwan Kim, or on FanGraphs “Yi-hwan Kim“, held the Kiwoom Heroes to just six baserunners in five innings on one ER. However, a troubling trend continued for the youngster (19-years old) as he once again walked more hitters (four) than he struck out (three). I say once again because, in his rookie season, Kim walked 21 batters in 38.0 innings and struck out just 15 of them. In that small sample, Kim posted a 5.08 FIP and 1.66 WHIP. The Lotte Giants have quietly hit the most homers and averaged the most runs per game of any offense thus far and no one seems to be talking about them. Byung Hun Min (LOT) has produced some of the most consistent numbers of any player over the course of his past 5-6 seasons, Jun-woo Jeon (LOT) is a legitimate power threat at the top of the lineup and Dixon Machado (LOT) is a former everday player (for a short period) at the MLB level. If trying to be different, the ownership level for most of these players should be around 10-percent, which is nothing in a league with just 10 total teams.
Honorable Mention: Kia Tigers (facing a mediocre lefty but offense is quite left-handed) and KT Wiz