This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
David Buchanan had the best day in the KBO on either side of the ball Thursday, tossing a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Eagles while striking out 11. He was really the only pitcher worth selecting on the slate, as only two others (Min Woo Kim and Eric Jokisch) threw more than four innings, and they both gave up four or more runs. On the offensive side, Baek Ho Kang reached base in all five of his trips to the plate as the Wiz beat the Bears, 8-3, while Joo Hwan Choi went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored as the Landers beat the Dinos, 9-3.
Friday's slate will feature a new set of matchups in a league that's still yet to see many teams separate from the pack, with every team but the Twins winning between four and six games. Playable pitching options should be very easy to find, as the day features six foreign starters and some decent or better local arms.
Ben Lively ($6,300) isn't close to the best of the six former MLB pitchers on Friday's slate, but he earns top billing here because he's by far the cheapest. His low price doesn't come without reason, as he's struggled in his first two starts of the year, posting a 7:6 K:BB while giving up 11 runs in 8.2 innings. He's also facing a Giants lineup which ranks first in scoring so far this year. A bet on Lively is a bet against small sample sizes, however. That same Giants offense ranked just sixth in scoring last year and hasn't added any notable pieces. Additionally, Lively was much better in his first two KBO campaigns. His 4.15 ERA wasn't elite, but his combination of a 21.4 percent strikeout rate and 7.3 percent walk rate hinted at better things to come. It won't cost much to find out if those better results will arrive Friday.
Perhaps the best reason not to select Lively is because he may have a tough time picking up a win with Dan Straily ($9,400) on the mound against him. Straily was among the league leaders in nearly every relevant stat last season. He finished second among qualified starters in ERA (2.50), first in WHIP (1.02), first in strikeout rate (26.4 percent) and seventh in walk rate (6.6 percent). He's walked five in 12 innings in his first two starts this year, but that's more or less his only blemish, as he's allowed just three runs while striking out 12. He gets an easy assignment Friday against the ninth-ranked Lions lineup.
It's going to be tough to include both Straily and Drew Rucinski ($9,000) in your lineup, but it might be hard to win without at least one of them. Rucinski wasn't quite at Straily's level last season, but he wasn't far behind. He finished fifth among qualified starters in ERA (3.05), ninth in WHIP (1.26) and fourth in strikeout rate (21.7 percent). He's exactly matched Straily's 12:5 K:BB so far this season, allowing just a single run in each of his first two starts. He shouldn't have a tough time making it three strong starts out of three against an Eagles lineup that ranked last in scoring by more than half a run last season and which sits seventh in that category so far this season.
Baek Ho Kang ($5,800) has been tasked with leading the Wiz lineup now that reigning MVP Mel Rojas Jr. is plying his trade in Japan, but the 21-year-old has looked very capable of doing that so far. Kang hasn't homered yet, but he's made excellent contact and shown a great eye for the zone, hitting .405/.500/.486 with more walks (seven) than strikeouts (five). Just how many homers he'll hit is an open question, as the 29 he hit as an 18-year-old rookie during the league's juiced-ball era in 2018 still represents his career high, but he's shown growth in other areas, increasing his OPS in each season. He should stay hot Friday with the platoon advantage against Heroes right Hyun Hee Han, who's pitching for the first time this season after missing the start of the year with a finger injury.
If you choose to bet on the Giants staying hot and Ben Lively staying cold in contrast to the advice given above, Jun Woo Jeon ($5,000) is the Giant to go after, as he's been the hottest of the bunch. Through 10 games, he's hitting .450/.560/.500. He's yet to homer, but he's seeing the ball incredibly well, walking nine times to go with just four strikeouts. The power should come along soon, as he's averaged 27 homers per season over the last three years, posting the three highest totals of his 13-year career in his age-32, age-33 and age-34 seasons.
David Freitas ($2,700) will get considerably more interesting once he's correctly labeled as a catcher, rather than as a second baseman and third baseman, two positions he's never played as a professional. Even at those two spots, he's a very strong candidate given how cheaply he's priced for a hitter with MLB experience. He hasn't set the league on fire in his first 10 games and is yet to homer, but he's hitting a very respectable .293 and has driven in eight RBI. Last year's Rookie of the Year Hyeong Jun So doesn't make for the easiest matchup, but he's not more than a middle-of-the-pack starter on Friday's loaded slate.
Yoo Seom Han ($3,300) didn't fit into the Landers stack listed below, but he makes for an interesting cheap alternative or an option to extend the stack to four hitters. Han, who went by "Dong Min Han" prior to this season, missed time with multiple injuries last season but was a strong power hitter when available. He hit just .249 but homered 15 times in 62 games, the equivalent of 34.8 over a full 144-game schedule, a total which would have ranked third in the league. He's gotten off to a poor start this season, grabbing just five hits in 10 games, but he'll get the platoon advantage against one of the day's weakest arms (discussed below), which should help kick-start his season.
Stacks to Consider
Im looked good in the early part of last season, but a second-half collapse saw him finish with a generally unimpressive line. In 25 starts, he recorded a 5.15 ERA and 1.45 WHIP, numbers that looked good compared to his 6.09 ERA and 1.72 WHIP from the previous two seasons but which still left him as a back-end starter at best. He did actually combine a 19.0 percent strikeout rate with a 5.9 percent walk rate, so he wouldn't be necessarily be a prime stack target on every slate, but his late-season struggles combined with his awful first start this season (in which he gave up eight runs against the Dinos while recording just 11 outs) makes him one of the weakest pitchers among a rather strong group.
Jeong Choi is one of the most expensive hitters on the entire slate and won't get the platoon advantage against Im, unlike his other teammates listed here. If you have the budget space, however, it's hard to make a Landers stack without him. The 34-year-old sits second in the league with four homers, giving him 372 for his career, the second-highest total in league history. There's no reason to expect that pop will go away any time soon, as he tied for fourth with 33 long bombs last season and tied for second with 29 in 2019.
Despite Jeong Choi's considerable talent, it's actually been Joo Hwan Choi who's led the struggling Landers offense so far this season. He joined the team in free agency over the winter after spending the first 13 years of his career as a Bear, and he didn't waste any time making a good first impression. He homered three times in his first two games and has remained hot at the plate since then, posting a .410/.425/.718 slash line through 10 contests. In his last two games, he's gone 5-for-8 with a pair of doubles.
I'm still sticking with Choo to round out this stack despite his slow start and the fact that his price has begun to rise after beginning the year at the minimum of $2,000 due to his lack of KBO experience. His early results in his first taste of KBO action aren't anything close to good, as he's hitting .167/.286/.267 through nine games, but it's unwise to alter our perception of the 38-year-old by too much after such a small sample. He has a far better MLB resume than any other hitter in the league and still managed a nearly league-average 97 wRC+ at the highest level last season despite his age. He should still have more than enough to be a strong contributor at the KBO level.
Jang was arguably one of the Eagles' best players last season, though that says far more about the team's roster as a whole than it says about him. While he was a serviceable budget starter for fantasy purposes against some of the league's weaker lineups, his final line wasn't good. He finished with a 5.02 ERA and 1.61 WHIP, both of which rank as bottom-two numbers among Friday's strong group of starters. He did strike out an above-average 19.1 percent of opposing batters, but he also issued walks at a 12.3 percent clip. A lineup as deep and talented as the Dinos' shouldn't have any trouble with him.
The Dinos' lineup features (deservedly) the three most expensive hitters on the slate in Na, Eui Ji Yang and Aaron Altherr. There's certainly a case for all three, though it may be tough to fit more than one of them into your lineup unless you make significant cuts elsewhere. Na is the one I've gone with here despite the fact that he's slightly more expensive than his teammates, as he'll be the one to get the platoon advantage. His failure to find a suitable MLB contract over the winter doesn't appear to have set him back at all, as he's already homered three times and driven in 14 runs in 10 games, the highest total in the league. With his power and the quality of the players batting in front of him, it would hardly be a surprise if he takes home the RBI title.
There are plenty of directions to take this stack given the depth of the Dinos' lineup, but I've elected to go with a pair of comparatively cheaper options here. No is relatively easy to fit into a fantasy lineup, as he qualifies at both middle-infield positions. He doesn't have an extra-base hit yet in six games so far this season, but he's making good contact, posting a 3:3 K:BB and hitting .273. The power could come at any time, though, as he's coming off a year in which he posted career highs in homers (20), slugging percentage (.480) and OPS (.836).
Kang won't get the platoon advantage against Jang like Na and No will, but he's a strong option nonetheless given his very affordable price. The 27-year-old had done nothing of note prior to last season, receiving just 214 plate appearances spread across four seasons, but an early injury to Chang Min Mo opened up starts at first base, and he jumped at the opportunity with an incredibly hot start. He faded down the stretch, failing to hit a single homer in the last two months of the season, but his overall .309/.351/.463 line was still quite strong given his track record. He's started this year strong as well, hitting .273/.368/.455 through 10 games.