This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
We're entering the fourth full week of KBO action, and the standings remain rather bunched up. Eight teams remain separated by just two games, with the Twins and Landers (who finished ninth last season) tied for the top spot. The Eagles unsurprisingly sit ninth at three games out, with the Heroes, who made the playoffs last season, sitting down in last place, 4.5 games behind the leaders and 3.5 games behind the final playoff spot. They also sit last in the run differential standings, getting outscored by 1.45 runs per game.
There's still plenty of time for the Heroes to turn things around, and that turnaround could start Tuesday, with Eric Jokisch ($10,100) tasked with taking on the Bears. The Bears aren't an easy opponent, ranking fourth in scoring so far this season, but Jokisch is good enough to be trustworthy against anyone. After leading all qualified starters with a 2.14 ERA last year and backing it up with a 1.06 WHIP, 18.0 percent strikeout rate and 3.9 percent wealk rate, he's off to a very similar start through his first four outings. He owns a 2.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP thus far, striking out 20.2 percent of opposing batters while walking just 7.4 percent. Five of the six runs he's given up this season have come in one single inning against the Twins.
Chan Heon Jeong ($9,100) started for the first time last year since his rookie season and looked quite good, finishing with a 3.51 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He backed those numbers up with a 17.5 percent strikeout rate and 6.4 percent walk rate. He only made 19 starts on the year, as the Twins handled his increased workload very cautiously, often sending him down between starts. He's being used normally this year and has pitched well, cruising to a 2.25 ERA through three starts. His strikeout rate has dropped to 14.5 percent, which is potentially cause for concern, but he should be in line for a solid night against a very righty-heavy Giants lineup.
Min Woo Kim ($7,700) isn't the most reliable option, but he looks like the cheapest pitcher worth considering on a slate that's full of very shaky starters. He owns a 3.37 ERA and 1.22 WHIP through his first four starts, though his 15.6 percent strikeout rate and 12.2 percent walk rate are both poor. Last season, however, despite a significantly more mediocre 4.34 ERA, he struck out 20.9 percent of opposing batters. That gives him a fair amount of upside against a Tigers team which ranks ninth in scoring so far this year.
I've generally been skeptical of treating Si Hwan Roh ($6,000) as one of the best hitters in the league, which he's again priced as Tuesday, but he's certainly worth considering the longer he keeps his hot start up. In a sense, his .328/.403/.703 slash line, which comes with six homers and a league-leading 23 RBI, is completely out of nowhere, as he hit just .220/.299/.387 last year. That may be somewhat unfair to the 20-year-old infielder, however, as he was the third overall pick in the 2019 draft, so to see a player with that pedigree break out at his age shouldn't catch us too off guard. Even if I'm not fully bought in, I'm interested in him here against Gi Yeong Im, who's allowed 12 runs in 7.1 innings across his first two starts.
Hyun Soo Kim ($5,000) started the season slowly, posting a .617 OPS through his first seven games. Since then, however, the veteran outfielder has been the same hitter he's always been, hitting .318/.423/.636 with four homers and 11 RBI in his last 12 games. He's coming off a year in which he hit .331 and drove in 119 runs, so that sort of performance comes as no surprise. He'll get the platoon advantage Tuesday against Giants righty Kyung Eun Noh, who posted an unremarkable 4.87 ERA last season.
If Min Woo Kim doesn't interest you as a budget option, Preston Tucker ($4,000) makes for a strong mid-priced outfielder against him. The former major leaguer started his third KBO season quite poorly, grabbing just four hits in his first seven games, but he's since started to pick things up at the plate, going hitless just once in his last 12. In his last two contests, he's gone 6-for-10 with four RBI. That's the sort of performance that should be expected going forward, as he hit .306 with 32 homers and 113 RBI last season.
The Wiz easily could have been a stack rotation on this slate, as they'll face Landers righty Su Min Jung, who owns a career 6.54 ERA. Leadoff man Yong Ho Cho ($3,900) looks like an affordable way to get a piece of the team's lineup. As with many KBO leadoff hitters, Cho has no power to speak of, as he doesn't have a single homer in 323 games and has slugged just .329 for his career. He's an on-base machine, however, making good contact (as seen in his .281 batting average) and walking at a high clip (17.5 percent so far this season). If the Wiz have a big day against Jung, he could score multiple runs.
Stacks to Consider
There are several pitchers with far less experience than the 34-year-old Yu on this slate, but the veteran still stands out as one of the top options to stack against. The soft-tossing southpaw appears to be feeling out the lower limit of how many batters a pitcher can strike out while still keeping a job. He recorded a 9.0 percent strikeout rate last season, which led unsurprisingly to a 5.02 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. That strikeout rate has dipped still further to 7.3 percent this year, but his ERA and WHIP have spiked even more dramatically, sitting at 10.45 and 2.61, respectively. He's yet to complete five innings in a start this year and may not spend much more time in the rotation unless he can turn things around soon.
Yu will get the platoon advantage against most of the Heroes' top bats, including Lee, but the 22-year-old outfielder is talented enough to be worth selecting anyone. He hasn't been the elite hitter he's supposed to be thus far this season, though his .286/.396/.364 slash line is still perfectly respectable. The power should come around sooner rather than later, as he hit a career-high 15 homers last season while leading the league with 49 doubles.
Park was one of the league's best offensive catchers last season, with his .762 OPS ranking third among regular backstops. He hasn't been anything close to that level so far this year, posting a .542 OPS, but getting the platoon advantage against Yu should be what he needs to get back on track. He provides a way to go cheap at catcher while still including someone who has the potential to be one of the best options at the position, even if he hasn't performed at that level lately.
Freitas follows the theme here of underperformers who could do far better than their price tags against a pitcher who has had serious troubles keeping runs off the basepaths. His .236/.263/.361 is far below the level that should be expected from a foreign hitter, but 19 games isn't nearly enough of a sample to say conclusively that he can't cut it at the KBO level. Anyone with MLB experience, even if it's relatively modest as in Freitas' case, should be assumed to be one of the better hitters in Korea, and while Freitas' early results are certainly discouraging, they aren't nearly enough to suggest we should give up on him completely, especially at his price.
The Lions are always considerably more scary at their home park, which ranks as the most hitter-friendly in the league. The 21-year-old Kim showed a bit of promise in 67.2 innings last year with his 18.0 percent strikeout rate and 4.6 percent walk rate, but that didn't translate to good results, as he finished with a 5.45 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Nothing has gone right for him this season, however, as his ERA has jumped to 6.94 while his WHIP spiked to 2.06. His strikeout and walk rates have taken significant steps backwards, sitting at 11.7 percent and 15.0 percent, respectively.
The left-on-left matchup is enough to scare me off of paying $6,100 for Ja Wook Koo, who's been excellent this season. Pirela has been more than good enough to lead a stack himself, however. His .266/.312/.411 line for Hiroshima in Japan last year wasn't anything special, but he's thriving with the step down in competition, hitting .325/.382/.650 with seven homers and 17 RBI through his first 20 games. He's only getting better as the season has gone on, grabbing seven multi-hit games in his last nine while posting a 1.461 OPS.
Kang may be 35 years old, but he's shown no signs of slowing down at the plate. He trailed only Eui Ji Yang among all backstops in homers (19) and OPS (.839) last season. He's been even better so far this year. Through 19 games, he's hitting an incredible .406/.446/.597, homering three times and driving in 17 runs. A .414 BABIP is undoubtedly partially responsible for his excellent batting average, but he's also managed to cut his strikeout rate to 9.5 percent, well below his previous career low of 13.7 that he set last season.
Lee should bat near the aforementioned pair, as he's hit somewhere between fifth and seventh in each of the last seven games. He doesn't have the same offensive upside, but he'll help keep the stack cheap and is far from useless at the plate. His .658 OPS on the season doesn't look good, but he's been much better lately, posting a .919 OPS over his current seven-game hitting streak. He's capable of perfectly adequate if unexciting numbers at the plate, as he hit a respectable .268/.342/.407 with 13 homers and 74 RBI in 467 plate appearances last year.