This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
The rainy season continues in Korea, as Thursday's two-game slate means we've now seen just one full slate in the last week. The Wiz and Lions fought a tight battle, with the former getting seven strikeouts over seven shutout innings from William Cuevas, which provided enough of a cushion to hold off a late Lions charge and win 3-2. Jung Dae Bae and Sung Woo Jang both homered for the Wiz, with Ja Wook Koo clearing the fence for the Lions. Elsewhere, the Landers trailed the Heroes 3-1 heading into the eighth inning following a strong start from Eric Jokisch but went on to score four runs in each of the last two frames to win by a comfortable 9-3 score. Rain could be a factor yet again Friday, though only the Giants-Lions game down in Daegu looks particularly threatened as of writing, and even that one appears to have a chance to go forward.
Young Pyo Ko ($8,800) has been remarkably consistent this season, showing no signs of rust after missing the last two years due to mandatory military service. He's lasted at least six innings in all 13 of his starts, recording a quality start in all but one. His 3.38 ERA and 0.98 WHIP on the season tell the story of his campaign well enough, with the latter representing the best mark among pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings this season, but he's been even better lately. In his last six starts, he's cruised to a 2.27 ERA and 0.76 WHIP. His combination of an above-average 19.6 percent strikeout rate and an elite 4.0 percent walk rate means his strong numbers should be very sustainable, making him an excellent option even if he weren't facing a Tigers lineup that was tied for last in scoring.
The Eagles are now tied with the Tigers for last in runs per game after averaging just 2.4 runs over their last 14 contests, a stretch in which they've been shut out four times and won just once. That makes even rather unexciting options like Tae Yang Lee ($5,900) worth looking at. There isn't anything particularly special about Lee, a 31-year-old with a career 5.26 ERA and a 4.87 mark this season, but he doesn't have to do very much here to justify his very low price. He spent most of this season as a reliever, posting an unexciting 4.63 ERA in 23.1 innings, but he's been mostly good since joining the rotation in mid-May. His 5.14 ERA as a starter is inflated significantly by his nine-run blowup against the Twins in late June, as he's allowed a combined three runs in his other three outings.
Back in the more expensive bracket, Wes Parsons ($9,900) has been somewhat shaky recently, but his overall body of work justifies his high price. He owns a 10:9 K:BB over his last two outings, which bookend a brief trip to the injured list with elbow issues, though his six runs allowed in 11 innings over that stretch is far from terrible. He was among the league's best starters in the six outings prior to that brief blip, tossing six straight quality starts while posting a 2.75 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 12.8 K/9. That kind of performance gives him a very high ceiling, even against a Heroes lineup that ranks fourth in scoring.
Jae Hwan Kim ($5,600) hasn't come close to repeating the 1.062 OPS and 44 homers that earned him MVP honors back in 2018, but he's in the middle of his best season since then. He's been particularly good at getting on base, as his career-high 16.6 percent walk rate has helped him to a .400 on-base percentage, his first time reaching that plateau since his MVP campaign. That patience hasn't cost him any power, as his 16 homers have him on pace for 30.7, a near match for the 30 he hit last year. He'll get the platoon advantage Friday against Twins righty Casey Kelly, who's been somewhat shaky this season and has allowed four runs in both of his last two starts.
Baek Ho Kang ($5,100) is virtually matchup-proof this season, though Tigers righty Aaron Brooks isn't the intimidating opponent he was last year, posting a 4.21 ERA and 1.51 WHIP over his last six starts on either side of an arm injury. Kang's batting average has dipped below .400, but he's still getting on base at better than coin-flip odds, slashing .395/.506/.750, good for a 1.076 OPS that ranks second among qualified hitters. He's riding a nine-game hitting streak, though his .400 average over that stretch is merely par for the course during his incredible season. The only flaw in his offensive game is his modest nine homers, but more power could be coming, as he averaged 21.7 homers over his first three seasons in the league.
I'm hesitant to invest heavily in the Giants-Lions game given the minor-to-moderate threat of rain, but I'm certainly interested in selecting a few of the game's cheaper hitters at the league's most hitter-friendly park as long as the weather doesn't get worse. Chi Hong An ($3,800) looks like the Giant to grab. He'll get the platoon advantage against lefty Chae Heung Choi, who hasn't been the same this year after missing the start of the season with an abdominal injury, struggling to a 5.73 ERA and 1.71 WHIP in nine starts. An is in the middle of a strong season, hitting .325/.386/.468 overall, and he's been particularly hot in eight games since returning from a knee injury, posting a 1.105 OPS over that stretch.
On the opposite side of that same contest, Won Seok Lee ($3,200) remains the budget Lion of choice. His .267/.371/.419 overall slash line, while nothing special, is arguably already good enough to justify his inexpensive price tag. He's been a very different hitter at home as opposed to on the road this season, however. His .257/.349/.363 line in other stadiums is rather unimpressive, but he's hit .278/.395/.485 at the hitter-friendly confines of Daegu Samsung Lions Park. He won't face too tough a test Friday, as the Lions are taking on Giants righty Enderson Franco, who owns a 4.73 ERA through 15 starts in his first KBO campaign.
Stacks to Consider
Friday's slate contains a number of middle-of-the-pack starters, but Lee stands on his own at the bottom of the pack as a clear outlier. After struggling to a 5.52 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in 19 starts last season, he moved to the bullpen and cruised to a 1.04 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 23 relief appearances. The Bears moved him back to the rotation this year in hopes that he'd maintain some of those improvements, but a move back to the pen could be coming soon. He hasn't been close to good enough through seven starts, posting an awful 9.82 ERA and 2.18 WHIP. Those numbers come with a similarly terrible combination of a 9.7 percent strikeout rate and 14.9 percent walk rate, so there's little reason to believe things will turn around soon.
The stack listed here features three mid-priced outfielders. Kim earns a spot despite the fact that he's gone hitless in five straight games, as there's no better way to break out of a slump than by getting the platoon advantage against a starter with an ERA north of 9.00. It's not often that you'll see a player with a career OPS of .896 this affordable, and that lengthy track record should outweigh a poor five-game stretch. Hong will also get the platoon advantage against Lee and has remained one of the league's best leadoff men throughout the season. He's currently riding a 16-game hitting streak, slashing .452/.547/.565 over that stretch. Chae won't get the platoon advantage, but he's been too hot lately to ignore. He's homered five times and driven in 18 runs over his last 14 games, hitting .385/.426/.712 over that stretch while striking out just four times.
There isn't an obvious next-best stack candidate on this slate, especially if you're nervous about stacking either side of the potentially rained-out Giants-Lions game. Carpenter's season-long numbers, which include a 3.93 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 23.7 percent strikeout rate, certainly don't make him seem like a pitcher you want to load up against, but they don't represent the pitcher he's been lately. He allowed four or more runs in just one of his first nine starts, cruising to a 1.69 ERA over that stretch, but he's done so in five of his last six outings. His 7.76 ERA and 1.79 WHIP over those six starts certainly looks like prime stack material. The lefty is also coming off his worst start of the entire season, as he allowed eight runs against the Wiz while striking out a season-low three over 4.1 innings of work.
One downside of stacking against Carpenter is that the Landers are fairly lefty-heavy atop their lineup, but we should still be able to find enough bats who will get the platoon advantage against him, such as the three names mentioned here. Choi has fallen off a bit after a blistering stretch which saw him homer four times in five games in late June, but a .762 OPS over the eight games since then doesn't exactly count as worrisome. The veteran slugger remains tied for the league lead with 20 homers. Romak is in the middle of the worst of his five seasons in Korea, which shouldn't be unexpected given that he's 35 years old. His .327/.355/.452 season slash line is far from poor, however, and all three numbers would be much higher if not for a .237 BABIP. Oh is a much more speculative option, but he just hit leadoff against a tough lefty (Eric Jokisch) on Thursday, and his 3-for-5 day means he should get to stick in that role. You don't have to be very good at all to justify a near-minimum price as a leadoff man. Oh's .687 OPS this season is poor, but he did post a .728 OPS while stealing 15 bases in just 258 plate appearances last season, which would easily clear that low bar.