This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
We're set for another five-game KBO slate Thursday that presents a bit of a challenge in terms of selecting hitters, as there's a fairly solid crop of starting pitchers taking the hill. That includes a couple of former major leaguers thriving in their first KBO seasons in Andrew Suarez and Ariel Miranda, as well as several other arms that have been successful in limiting damage thus far this season.
As customary, I'll highlight what I consider to be two of the safer pitching options at different price points, followed by some one-off hitters across the salary scale that could also prove profitable for cash games and/or tournaments. I'll then deviate a bit from the norm and stick to just one stack that I trust the most to potentially string some above-average offensive numbers together and pay off for you in tournaments.
Ariel Miranda ($9,300) has hit the ground running in the KBO, averaging 20.4 DK points while posting a 4-0 record, 1.85 ERA and a 29.6 percent strikeout rate. The former Mariners left-hander has yet to allow a home run over 24.1 innings as well, and he's generated scoreless efforts in two of his last three starts. The opposing Twins are averaging a KBO-low 3.8 runs per game, as well as a league-low 7.9 hits per contest. LG also has a just a modest 22 homers over 26 games and a KBO-worst .239 team batting average, strengthening Miranda's case at a salary that makes him an excellent cost-savings pivot from Andrew Suarez ($10.4K).
Young Pyo Ko ($8,100) is another pitcher who's gotten his 2021 season off to an impressive start, posting a 3-1 record, 1.16 WHIP and 0.6 HR/9 over his first five trips to the mound, which have all resulted in quality starts. One of those came against the same Heroes squad he'll face Thursday, as he held Kiwoom to two earned runs on five hits over six innings back on April 18 while generating 20.5 DK points. The Heroes are averaging a modest 8.8 hits per game, carry a pedestrian .252 average and have hit just 14 homers in 27 contests, so they remain an appealing matchup for Ko, especially at his salary.
ALSO CONSIDER: Eui Lee Lee ($8,700)
Jose Pirela ($6,000) has found the KBO even more to his liking than Nippon Professional Baseball over in Japan, as he owns a .349/.400/.661 slash over 27 games while lacing 15 extra-base hits and knocking in 21 runs. That's led to an average of 11.3 DK points per contest, and Thursday, he faces a left-hander in Dong Hyun Bae that's primarily been utilized in a relief capacity this season. Pirela posted a .292 average, .823 OPS and .352 wOBA against southpaws in his six-season MLB career as well, another reason to consider him Thursday despite the elevated salary. He also comes in swinging a red-hot bat, as evidenced by his .418 average (23-for-55), 11 XBH (four doubles, one triple, six home runs) and 13 RBI across his last 13 games.
Baek Ho Kang ($5,400) checks in with a jaw-dropping .420 average and 1.034 OPS across his first 26 games, a span during which he's also racked up an impressive 25 RBI. Kang has accomplished the latter figure by hitting an outstanding .441 with runners in scoring position, and Thursday, he draws a favorable matchup against the Heroes' Hyun Hee Han, who's pitched to a 4.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and a 5.31 FIP over his first three starts. Meanwhile, Kang has six double-digit DK-point tallies in his last 10 games alone, making him more than capable of exploiting the right-hander's weaknesses.
Suk Hwan Yang ($4,300) has opened the season with an .824 OPS, 22 RBI and a .387 average with runners in scoring position, and he checks into Thursday's action with a seven-game hitting streak. The veteran has also lit up Twins pitching for a .412 average (7-for-17) over four games and is averaging 10.3 DK points over his last 10 games overall, a span during which he's posted DK-point tallies of 17, 24 and 25. He draws a tough matchup on paper against LG's Andrew Suarez, which will likely keep his rostering rate down; however, Suarez's one lackluster effort this season came against this same Bears squad on April 17, a game in which Yang laced a double against him in one plate appearance before Suarez exited.
Hoon Jung ($4,000) has put together an impressive start to his 2021 campaign that includes 11 extra-base hits (eight doubles, three home runs), 15 RBI and an .892 OPS over 23 games. The veteran has an even better .997 OPS over 11 home games and is averaging 9.7 DK points over that span as well. Thursday, he faces a quality starter in the Tigers' Eui Lee Lee,, but it's an opposite-handed matchup that Jung, who has five double-digit DK-point tallies in his last 10 games alone, can potentially thrive in.
Woong Bin Kim ($3,000) is averaging 8.4 DK points per game, an outstanding figure for a player of his salary. He's also lit up Wiz pitching for a .462 average and 1.716 OPS across four games, a span during which he's averaged 15.3 DK points. Kim has all three of his homers on the season versus KT as well, with all coming Wednesday in a spectacular performance that netted a jaw-dropping 49 DK points. He has another pair of double-digit DK-point tallies in his last 10, and although he's facing one of my pitching recommendations in Young Pyo Ko, the potential return on investment is such that I believe he's worthy of consideration, even in the same lineup as the Wiz starter.
Also consider: Chi Hong An ($3,500)
Stack to Consider
As mentioned in Kang's entry, Han has started off the year with some questionable metrics over his first three starts. Han is also not a strikeout pitcher, and he's had trouble keeping the ball in the park in some of his past seasons. The Wiz is also averaging a KBO-high 5.9 runs per game while checking in second in the league with 10 hits per contest.
Cho kicks off the stack sporting a very appealing salary and .364 average (4-for-11) over four games versus Kiwoom pitching. The veteran also sports an outstanding .407 average with runners in scoring position despite typically working out of the top of the order, an elite level of clutch hitting that's led to him compiling 16 RBI on 23 hits. Cho is also a good contact hitter, as evidenced by his 12.7 percent strikeout rate, and he's capable of contributing a stolen base or two as well.
Bae is an excellent No. 2 hitter who carries an .808 OPS and .346 average with runners in scoring position into Thursday's game. The veteran has gotten off to a bit of a slow start in the power department with just one homer over his first 114 plate appearances, but he's still contributed 14 RBI and has stolen four bases on his way to an average of 8.5 DK points, a figure that rises to 8.8 in his road split.
The case for Kang was already made earlier, and Almonte makes for a very cost-effective way to round out the stack without sacrificing upside. The former MLBer is typically operating out of the cleanup spot and owns a .305/.371/.457 slash with eight extra-base hits (four doubles, four home runs) and 17 RBI across 26 games. Almonte offered a reminder of the hefty ceiling he offers at his salary when he put up 46 DK points against the Tigers four games ago, and he also has a pair of 14-DK-point tallies within his last eight games.