This article is part of our DFS KBO series.
Wednesday's KBO action saw the Dinos and Giants move into a tie at the top of the standings, winning one-run games against the Wiz and Bears, respectively. The rumored widespread bullpen meltdowns we've been told to expect in this league were certainly a factor, with relievers allowing seven runs in the final three innings of the Wiz-Dinos game and allowing nine runs over the final four frames in the Bears-Giants matchup. From a fan perspective, especially for those new to the league who haven't picked a particular team to root for, that makes for some very exciting baseball. From a fantasy perspective, we may need to adjust our expectations of the likelihood that a top starting pitcher will pick up a win, even if his team is heavily favored. It would be unwise to adjust things too much at this point, as while such a change makes some intuitive sense, it hasn't actually been reflected in the numbers yet. Starters own 62.2 percent of wins in the KBO compared to 59.7 percent of the wins in MLB last season.
Note: FanDuel is using Team Starting Pitchers rather than individual starting pitchers, presumably to guard against last-minute changes that could occur at hours of the night when most reasonable Americans won't be checking their fantasy lineups.
Nothing about Tyler Wilson's ($7,200 DraftKings, $20 FanDuel as "LG Starting P") season debut was good, as he struck out two, walked four and gave up seven runs in 4.1 innings against the Dinos. Fantasy players should know better than to take a strong starting pitcher (who recorded ERAs of 3.07 and 2.92 in 2018 and 2019, respectively) off the board after just one bad start to open the year, however. Plus, Wilson had a very understandable reason to start slowly, as his spring buildup was interrupted by the mandatory two-week quarantine he underwent upon returning from the United States. It's certainly possible that the effects of that delay could carry into his second start, but that's a gamble worth taking at his cheap price, especially against a Wyverns offense that ranks second-last in runs per game this season.
Drew Gagnon ($6,500 DraftKings, $22 FanDuel as "Kia Starting P") didn't excel in his KBO debut, giving up four runs (three earned) in 5.1 innings against the Lions, but we should generally assume that the pitchers teams have elected to give one of their precious few foreign player spots to are above-average options until proven otherwise. He could be a great value as one of the cheapest options on both sites, especially since he's facing an Eagles lineup that ranks last in runs per game this year.
You'll have to pay up to get Chang-mo Koo ($9,200 DraftKings, $28 FanDuel as "NC Starting P"), but if you have room in your budget, you'll likely be happy you did. The 23-year-old lefty had a breakout 2019 campaign, striking out 25.4 percent of batters en route to a 3.20 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. In terms of the ratio by which Koo outperformed the league-average 17.2 percent strikeout rate last season, the southpaw's strikeout prowess is a rough equivalent of that of Mike Clevinger and his 33.9 percent strikeout rate in the MLB last year. The Wiz have a decent-enough offense, but Koo offers enough upside to justify his high price.
Jose Fernandez ($5,900 DraftKings, $17 FanDuel) earns frequent mentions here as part of a Bears stack, but he's a worthy inclusion on his own for anyone who has the budget space. Last year's hits leader finally had his first hitless game of the season Wednesday, though that only brought his average down to .517. He'll face Giants righty Se Woong Park, whose 4.20 ERA and 1.48 WHIP last season shouldn't scare anyone off.
Hyun Soo Kim ($5,300 DraftKings, $14 FanDuel) has been on fire to start this season, hitting .484/.500/.774 with six extra-base hits through his first seven games. He has a long track record of KBO success, posting a .322/.409/.494 slash line over his 13-year career. Wyverns' starter Jong Hoon Park had a solid 3.88 ERA last season, but both his strikeout and walk rates were worse than average, making Kim potentially a strong pair with teammate Roberto Ramos ($3,000 DraftKings, $16 FanDuel).
Sung-bum Na ($3,600 DraftKings, $12 FanDuel) again occupies this space and will do so frequently as long as his price remains so out of line with his talent level and performances. Just why one of the best hitters in the league is still so affordable even after grabbing seven hits and two homers in his last three games remains a mystery, but there's little sense in turning down such a gift.
Dong Yeop Kim ($2,700 DraftKings, $11 FanDuel) is understandably cheap given his poor .606 OPS last season, but he's looked far better this season, recording an .809 OPS with a pair of homers. He occupies a prime position in the Lions' order, typically batting second, and will get the platoon advantage against Heroes lefty Seung Ho Lee, whose 4.48 ERA and 1.51 WHIP last season are rather unremarkable.
STACKS TO CONSIDER
Every other pitcher on the slate either pitched at the MLB level last season or at least had an ERA below 5.00 in the KBO, making Jang and his 5.43 ERA a fairly obvious stack target. His strikeout and walk rates last season were actually both better than league average, but he gave up far too much loud contact. Batters hit .304 off him and managed 1.1 HR/9, well above the league-average 0.7 HR/9 mark. Dating back to the end of last season, he's allowed six homers in his last five starts, including one against the Heroes in his season debut.
Tucker has been on a roll to start the season, batting primarily out of the No. 3 spot. The left-handed outfielder has hit .393/.500/.750 through eight games, homering three times and driving in 11 runs. The power, in particular, is a nice surprise given that he hit a modest nine homers in his 95-game KBO debut last season. There's reason to believe he'll keep slugging, however, as power wasn't something he lacked in his 651 plate appearances at the MLB level, where he hit 23 homers and posted an above-average .182 ISO.
Hyoung Woo Choi is very pricy on DraftKings, where you may want to consider Sun Bin Kim at $3,900 instead, but he looks like a steal on FanDuel. The veteran slugger, who's been batting fourth or fifth for the Tigers this year, recorded an OPS north of .903 in each of the last seven seasons. In that context, his .804 OPS this season is nothing special, but it's certainly not a slump, and his long track record of elite performances makes him a worthy inclusion.
Won Joon Choi has led off each time the Tigers have faced a righty this season, making him a steal at his low price on both sites. His second-base eligibility is a big boost on DraftKings, where positional scarcity in the middle infield can be a real factor. He hasn't done anything too special at the plate this season, or indeed in his career, but he's gotten on base at a .382 clip through eight games and could have plenty of chances to score should the Tigers tee off on Jang.
Choi appears to be the second-weakest member of a group of starting pitches which looks fairly strong across the slate. His 4.81 ERA and 1.53 WHIP last season are likely at least partially attributable to a high .342 BABIP, as his strikeout and walk rates were each slightly better than average, but he also got to benefit from making nearly half of his appearances out of the bullpen, so we should expect his ratios to fall off somewhat when he's starting games.
We've only seen the Heroes face one lefty this season, though they've left their top four hitters unchanged in all eight of their games. Cleanup man ByungHo Park hasn't quite gotten going this season, hitting .200/.273/.400 overall, though he does at least have a pair of homers. A weaker lefty on the mound sure looks like a great opportunity for the veteran right-handed slugger to pick things up, and he has quite the track record, hitting at least 31 homers with an OPS of .959 or better in each of his last six KBO campaigns.
Kim's price, especially on DraftKings, is also more reflective of his previous success than his 2020 numbers. He hasn't hit the ball well in eight games this year, posting a .161/.257/.290 slash line, but he's hit at least 19 homers with an OPS of .835 or better for five straight seasons, quite strong numbers for a shortstop in a league where offense is generally concentrated in the corner positions. The right-handed hitter occupies the key No. 2 spot in the Heroes' lineup and should have plenty of opportunities to get involved in the action if he can break his early slump.
Dong Won Park is one of the better offensive catchers in the KBO, and he's priced as such on DraftKings. (FanDuel lumps catchers in with infielders.) He typically bats fifth for the Heroes and has a strong enough bat that he's served as the designated hitter once this season. The backstop owns an .804 OPS this season, quite close to his .813 mark from last year.