This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Friday's KBO slate featured everything from a 2-0 pitchers' duel to a 15-5 blowout. In the former game, Dan Straily bounced back from an extended slump to toss a gem against the league-leading Wiz, striking out six over six shutout innings while allowing just three hits. That proved enough to beat Je Seong Bae, who struck out seven over seven innings while allowing two runs. In the latter, an eight-run first inning by the Eagles saw them cruise to an easy win over the Heroes, with Si Hwan Roh homering twice and driving in six runs. Elsewhere, Been Gwak had an out-of-nowhere fantastic start, striking out 11 over six scoreless innings against the Landers while allowing just two hits as the Bears cruised to a 7-2 win.
We're back to a full five-game slate on DraftKings, one that begins slightly earlier at 4:00 a.m. ET. The slate should remain full, with no threatening weather in the forecast as of writing.
We have an unusual group of pitchers on the mound Saturday, as there are three elite options alongside seven that I want no part of. David Buchanan ($9,700) almost feels like a required inclusion, as the other two playable pitchers are squaring off against each other. He'll likely be in a ton of lineups as a result, but if you try to differentiate yourself from the crowd you may end up being left behind. Buchanan has been great this season, posting a 2.82 ERA and 1.27 WHIP through 22 starts. After striking out just 16.6 percent of opposing batters last year, he's dragged that number all the way up to 22.6 percent this season, giving him a healthy amount of upside. The fourth-ranked Landers lineup isn't the easiest assignment, but he at least gets to face them away from home rather than at the Lions' hitter-friendly park.
Drew Rucinski ($10,200) is very expensive and faces the Wiz, owners of the league's highest-scoring lineup, but he's been good enough this season that he deserves consideration nonetheless. After posting a 3.05 ERA in each of his first two seasons in Korea, he owns an even better 2.87 mark this season, one that comes with a career-high 22.5 percent strikeout rate. He's been especially good over his last four starts, posting a 1.38 ERA and 0.85 WHIP while striking out 25 batters and walking just four.
If you don't want to pay up for Rucinski, Young Pyo Ko ($9,300) offers a slightly cheaper alternative from the same game. He doesn't quite have the strikeout upside that Buchanan and Rucinski do, though his 18.5 percent mark is perfectly adequate. He's paired that mark with a 4.5 percent walk rate, the best mark in the league among qualified hitters. That combination makes his 3.25 ERA look very sustainable. Ko is coming off a pair of excellent starts, allowing zero earned runs in 17 total innings. Expecting another outing quite that good may be unwise, but he should still be in for a strong night against a Dinos lineup that isn't as good as its second-place ranking in runs per game, as the team lost four regulars to suspensions over the Olympic break due to health-protocol violations.
Chang Ki Hong ($5,000) barely played at all prior to his age-26 season last year, but he's since emerged as one of the league's premier on-base threats. He broke out last season with a .279 average and 16.4 percent walk rate, but he's taken another step forward this year, hitting .322 while walking 17.2 percent of the time, good for a .458 on-base percentage. That mark trails only Baek Ho Kang among qualified hitters. Hong is a prototypical leadoff man, as he's homered just four times all season but has boosted his fantasy value with 17 steals, tying him for eighth in the league. He should get on base early and often Saturday, as he'll get the platoon advantage against Tigers righty Joong Hyun Yoon, whose 3.18 ERA isn't backed up at all by his 13:18 K:BB.
Eun Won Jung ($4,700) is another prototypical leadoff man, though filling that role for the Eagles is a less rewarding job than it might be elsewhere. Even the Eagles should be in for a big day Saturday, however, as they'll face Giants righty Jun Won Seo, the proud owner of a 6.05 ERA. Jung's profile looks much like Hong's, as he's homered just five times while tying the Twins outfielder with 17 steals. The 21-year-old has actually outdone Hong in walk rate, as he's earned a free pass in 18.2 percent of his plate appearances. That mark leads all qualified hitters and has helped him to a .411 on-base percentage.
It's apparently a leadoff-man-themed column today, as Yong Kyu Lee ($3,700) should benefit greatly from filling that role for the Heroes on Saturday. He'll get the platoon advantage against righty Jong Ki Park, who owns a mediocre 4.08 ERA while pitching almost exclusively in relief and has struck out just 13.2 percent of opposing batters. Lee is even less of a power hitter than Hong and Jung, as he's homered just a single time this season after failing to clear the fence even once last year, but he's a similar on-base threat, slashing .286/.380/.337 on the season. He's been particularly hot at the plate over his last 11 games, hitting .381 with seven walks and zero strikeouts while adding six steals, tying him with both Hong and Jung at 17 on the season.
Sang Su Kim ($2,600) isn't a leadoff man, though he'd be a good fit for that role when things are going well for him. That was the case last year, when he slashed .304/.396/.401. He didn't look anything like that player through his first 62 games, hitting a miserable .192/.292/.230, but he picked things up shortly before the Olympic break and has carried that momentum into the second halt. Over his last 38 games, he's hit .308/.382/.376, a line which doesn't look too far from what he produced last season. That's seen him jump up to the sixth spot in recent games, where he'll be an interesting budget option at second or third base against Tae Yang Lee, who's struggled to a 5.73 ERA over his last four starts.
Stacks to Consider
We're spoiled for choice in terms of compelling stack options Saturday, but we'll start here with the third-ranked Bears lineup against a pitcher who has as good a claim as anyone to be the weakest arm on the slate. Kim's surface stats in 27.2 innings (three starts and 12 relief appearances) this season are bad enough, as he's struggled to a 6.18 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. There's little reason to believe those numbers will improve any time soon, as he's combined a 9.3 percent strikeout rate with an 11.6 percent walk rate. He simply allows far too much contact, so expect plenty of hits from the Bears' top bats. The trio listed here have been the Bears' hottest hitters of late, with all three posting an OPS north of .950 over their last 10 games. Fernandez in particular stands out as surprisingly affordable should you choose to select only one Bear.
You could go in a lot of directions for this stack on a day full of unreliable starters, but Jang looks to be one of the arms I'm most interested in picking on. He's only thrown eight innings at the KBO League level this season, allowing seven runs (three earned) on 11 hits, striking out three batters while walking the same number. It's unsurprising that the 31-year-old hasn't been given any more opportunities, as he struggled to a 6.75 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in 57.1 innings last season and owns a 5.73 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over the course of his 11-year career. Most of the Giants' largely interchangeable bats who bat in the top two thirds of the order should be in play here. The stack I've listed above features a trio who hit fourth through sixth Friday.