This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Wednesday saw the first full, five-game slate of KBO action in over a month and featured a generally high-scoring set of contests. The Twins offense led the way with four homers (including the first KBO blast for Justin Bour) in their 12-5 victory over the Landers, with Andrew Suarez striking out seven in five innings. Gye Beom Park and Seung Ho Kang homered out of the final two spots in the Bears' order to help their team past the Lions, 8-6, while a six-run ninth inning from the Eagles, which culminated in a game-tying homer from Jae Hoon Choi, secured a 7-7 tie against the Tigers.
Thursday's slate looks rain-free again and could be another high-scoring one, with only one foreign starter on display as teams move towards the middle of their rotations.
Sam Gaviglio ($7,100) has only made two starts thus far in his KBO career, both of which were quite poor, but he's still far too inexpensive for a player with MLB experience. There's no defending his 9.58 ERA and 2.03 WHIP through his first two outings overseas, and his 6:5 K:BB isn't close to good either, but two bad starts isn't nearly enough of a sample size to conclude that a pitcher who's thrown nearly 300 innings at the highest level of the sport doesn't have what it takes to succeed following the step down in competition. The Twins' lineup is decent, but he'll face them at pitcher-friendly Jamsil Baseball Stadium as he looks to turn things around following a month-long break.
Min Woo Kim ($9,500) has gotten quite pricey, but it's hard to say that's undeserved. The 25-year-old righty showed very little prior to last season, when he finished with a decent 4.34 ERA and a 20.9 percent strikeout rate. That latter mark was the second-best among Korean-born pitchers who threw at least 100 innings. He owns a slightly better 21.4 percent strikeout rate this season while cutting his ERA to 3.89, a resume strong enough to earn him a place in the Korean rotation at the Olympics. While he struggled on that big stage, allowing 5 runs in 6.1 innings of work, he should fare far better Thursday against a Tigers team which ranks second-last in scoring.
Finding a third starter worth recommending on this slate isn't easy, but Min Hyeok Shin ($8,700) looks like the best bet. His 4.69 ERA in 12 starts and five relief appearances isn't anything special, but he's combined a roughly average 17.4 percent strikeout rate with a low 7.6 percent walk rate, which should typically be enough to get the job done going forward. He pitched better than his ERA indicates for most of the first half, carrying a 3.31 ERA through his first 13 outings, but he stumbled to an 8.38 ERA over his final four starts prior to the break. The 22-year-old should be a useful piece for the Dinos down the stretch if the long layoff allows him to reset. He'll get an easy enough matchup Thursday against a very righty-heavy Giants squad.
You can never go wrong with Baek Ho Kang ($5,500), especially against a mediocre righty like the Heroes' Dong Hyeok Kim, whose 3.22 ERA comes with a 15:12 K:BB, all in relief. Kang is a phenomenal talent at the plate and is making a push for a .400 season, hitting .399 through 77 games. That level of contact combined with an excellent eye (as seen in his 16.9 percent walk rate) has helped him to an incredible .507 on-base percentage, easily the best mark among qualified hitters. It's tough to pass up a player who reaches base at better than coin-flip odds, especially when he has merely the fifth-highest price tag on the slate.
I couldn't bring myself to recommend an Eagles stack two nights in a row, though I was tempted to do so against Tigers lefty Yu Sin Kim, who owns a 7.80 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Too many of the Eagles' best bats are lefties themselves, but right-handed catcher Jae Hoon Choi ($4,400) should be a strong option at the position. He's one of a small number of catchers who occupy a prime lineup position, as he's been locked into the second spot in the Eagles' order, a role which is valuable even in a poor offense. He doesn't have the strongest track record, though he's been an above-average hitter in each of the previous two seasons and has been hot on either side of the break. He hit .290 with a pair of homers in the final seven games before the Olympics and has gone 3-for-8 with a homer in two games since the break.
Yong Kyu Lee ($3,000) should have a firm grip on the Heroes' leadoff role after Geon Chang Seo was traded to the Twins and will be a quality budget outfielder as long as he remains there. The veteran has almost no power, hitting a grand total of 25 homers across his 17-year career, but he fills his role well. He's hit .280 or better in 10 of the last 11 seasons and supplements that with a good eye, with his 12.1 percent walk rate helping him to a .393 on-base percentage this season. The table-setter should have multiple opportunities to score Thursday, as he'll get the platoon advantage against Wiz righty Sang Back Um, who last pitched at the KBO in 2019 (due to mandatory military service) and owns a career 6.21 ERA.
While I did mention Sam Gaviglio as a clear bargain above, Justin Bour ($2,000) should be in every lineup which doesn't include him. The veteran slugger has gone just 1-for-9 through his first two games in Korea, though that one hit was a homer. He could be 0-for-9 with nine strikeouts and still be worth consideration as a minimum-price player, however, as that price tag is nowhere close to what it should be for someone with his career resume. Everyone with any MLB experience should be considered one of the best hitters in KBO until they prove otherwise, but Bour hasn't just played at the highest level, he's played quite well there, posting a .794 OPS in 559 games.
Stacks to Consider
Choi owns a 3.48 ERA on the season, but nothing about it looks sustainable. It's come in a small sample of just 20.2 innings (three starts and five relief appearances) and isn't remotely supported by his 13:12 K:BB. Once his .250 BABIP rises, his ERA is sure to do the same. Choi doesn't have much of a track record at all at the KBO level, as he's a 29-year-old who's thrown just 116.1 career innings. The only time he finished with an ERA south of 6.00 was when he recorded just four outs back in 2015. Expect him to perform much closer to his 6.19 career ERA and 1.76 WHIP than his current numbers going forward.
The Dinos' lineup depth has been decimated after four regulars were suspended for the rest of the year for COVID-19 protocol violations, but there are still plenty of exciting hitters here. The stack featured here contains two of the best hitters in the country alongside an unproven bat who should benefit from hitting in front of them. Yang remains far and away the best use of your catcher slot, scoring more than 40 percent more DraftKings points per game than anyone else at the position. He leads all qualified hitters with a remarkable 1.122 OPS and sits first in RBI (73) while tying for the lead in homers (20). Na was more good than great for most of the season but entered the break hot, homering four times in his last six games. He opened his second-half account with his 18th homer of the season Wednesday, placing him just two back of the leaders. Kim's track record isn't in the same galaxy as his aforementioned teammates, as he has just 14 total KBO plate appearances. He's been the leadoff man in both games thus far in the second half, however, and it's hard to pass up someone this cheap who bats in front of the likes of Yang and Na.
It doesn't take much to make a lineup appealing to stack at hitter-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park, and Gwak certainly hasn't been all that intimidating. The 22-year-old righty was a high draft pick back in 2018 and does own a solid 3.98 ERA through seven starts this season, but that's about where the positives end. That ERA comes with a very uninspiring set of peripherals, including a 1.71 WHIP. He's struck out just 15.0 percent of opposing batters while issuing walks at a 15.7 percent clip. With such poor control, it's no surprise that he hasn't been able to go deep into games, never passing the 5.1-inning mark and averaging just 4.5 innings per start.
We'll go with another lefty-heavy trio here to maximize the platoon advantage against Gwak, though righty Jose Pirela is worth a look as usual if you have the budget space. Koo has been very streaky this season but is among the league's better batters when he's on his game. He started the second half well Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a steal. Oh is a strong mid-tier option at first base, a position that's loaded with talented but very expensive hitters. The 34-year-old is aging gracefully, in part because he moved to the league's most hitter-friendly park this offseason after spending nine years at pitcher-friendly Jamsil Baseball Stadium as a member of the Bears. Adjusted for park factors, his .876 OPS this year is therefore less impressive than his .873 mark from last year, but the fact that his numbers are propped up by his home park doesn't count as a negative for games which take place at that same stadium. Lee won't get the platoon advantage but is an interesting and inexpensive option at third base whenever the Lions play at home. He's slugged .481 at home this season compared to a modest .363 on the road.