This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Saturday's KBO slate had something for everyone. If you like extra-innings thrillers, the Landers and Bears provided one, with the former winning 5-2 following Seong Han Park's 12th-inning three-run homer. If you like high-scoring shootouts, the Heroes and Dinos combined for 22 runs in Kiwoom's 13-9 win, with Jung Hoo Lee and Geon Chang Seo each scoring two runs and driving in three more. If you prefer pitchers' duels, the Tigers and Wiz had you covered, with Aaron Brooks' nine strikeouts in six one-run innings proving to be not enough as Je Seong Bae threw seven scoreless, three-hit innings in the Wiz's 3-0 victory. If you prefer blowouts for some reason, the Eagles provided one with their 11-3 win over the Giants, with Eun Won Jung and Woon Ho Jang each scoring three times and Ju Suk Ha hitting a grand slam.
Sunday's slate starts at 1:00 a.m. ET and looks rain-free as of writing. We could see plenty of runs with a lot of pitchers looking like prime stack targets, though the top of the pitcher pool is strong.
David Buchanan ($9,700) may be the most expensive pitcher on the slate and may be pitching in the league's best hitters' park, but he's well worth paying up for. Last year, he was more good than great, as his 16.6 percent strikeout rate didn't fully support his 3.45 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. This year, there's no arguing with any aspect of his performance. His strikeout rate has spiked to 26.6 percent while his ERA and WHIP have dropped to 1.38 and 1.07, respectively. He's given up just five earned runs in five starts, with just one of those coming in his last four trips to the mound. He shut out a strong Dinos lineup at home over six frames in his last outing and should be in line for a similar performance Sunday against a Twins lineup which ranks last in scoring this season.
Odrisamer Despaigne ($8,800) also wasn't one of the league's most impressive foreign starters last season. He was useful as an innings eater, as his 207.2 frames led the league while his 34 starts beat every other starter by at least three, but his 4.33 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in those innings was nothing to write home about. This year, however, his strikeout rate has jumped from 16.4 percent to 22.4 percent, helping him to an excellent 2.27 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. He's allowed just a single run in his last two starts and should be set for another strong outing against a struggling Tigers lineup that sits ninth in runs per game.
For a mid-priced option, consider Min Woo Kim ($7,900). The 25-year-old struggled significantly through the end of the 2019 season, but he started showing signs of competence last year, finishing with a passable 4.34 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. His 20.9 percent strikeout rate was quite encouraging, but it was mostly offset by a 12.1 percent walk rate. This year, his strikeout rate has dipped to 17.1 percent, so a .210 BABIP seems like a large part of the reason for his 3.25 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. Still, he looks like at least a fine mid-rotation starter, and he could outperform his usual numbers against a righty-heavy Giants lineup that's averaged just 3.4 runs over the last seven games.
Baek Ho Kang ($5,300) has quite a lot on his 21-year-old shoulders with reigning MVP Mel Rojas Jr. now playing in Japan and former San Francisco Giant Jae Gyun Hwang set to miss two months with a broken nose. There may be no other hitter in the league his age who's nearly as capable of handling that responsibility, however. After finishing fifth in the league with a .955 OPS last season, he occupies the same spot on the leaderboard with a 1.020 mark so far this year. That's all while hitting just two homers, as he leads the league with a .415 batting average. He should stay hot Sunday with the platoon advantage against Tigers righty Gi Yeong Im, who owns a 10.13 ERA through three starts.
Jeong Choi ($5,200) got off to a bit of a slow start this season, hitting just .204/.292/.426 over his first 16 games. He's looked much more like himself over his last eight games, reaching base safely at least once in all eight games while hitting .333/.515/.500. His season-long batting average still sits at just .244, but an increase in his .275 BABIP should help there. The veteran should be in for a strong night with the platoon advantage against Bears lefty Hee Kwan Yoo, who owns a 9.60 ERA and 2.33 WHIP on the season.
Too many of the Heroes' best bats are struggling for me to recommend them as a potential stack given the high number of options on this slate, but Geon Chang Seo ($4,000) is a solid mid-price option who will get the platoon advantage against Dinos righty Jeong Soo Park, who's pitching for the first time this season and owns a career 6.44 ERA. The veteran Seo is one of a small number of Heroes who are living up to expectations this season, hitting .333/.450/.432. His .388 BABIP means his average will likely fall, but his 15.0 percent walk rate looks sustainable, as it's a near match for his 15.3 percent mark from last season.
Eun Won Jung ($3,400) still looks to me to be the most cost-efficient Eagle to roster, and selecting an Eagle or two seems like a good idea against Kyung Eun Noh, who owns a 5.73 ERA through two starts. He hasn't quite had the dominant start of teammates Si Hwan Roh and Ju Suk Ha, but it's hard to justify paying those two players' prices after they both finished last year with an OPS south of .700. Jung has shown an outstanding eye this season, walking in an incredible 23.6 percent of his plate appearances. The leadoff man has been on a tear over his last 10 games, hitting .385/.510/.513 and giving his teammates plenty of chances to drive him in. He's crossed the plate three times in each of his last two games.
Stacks to Consider
There are far more pitchers worth picking on than normal Saturday, but Jeong Bin Kim is arguably the most compelling. The 26-year-old lefty has thrown just 50.1 career KBO innings, a sign of his lack of upside in a league which sees many top players establish themselves as teenagers. 47.1 of his innings came in relief last year, and they weren't anything close to promising. His 5.13 ERA could have been worse, and his 1.73 WHIP and 42:45 K:BB suggest that it probably should have been. He'll be making his season debut and his first career start Sunday after posting a 10:9 K:BB in 11.2 innings in the Futures League.
A lefty on the mound for the Landers means we'll want to lean towards the Bears' righties here, but Jae Hwan Kim has been hot enough lately that he's worth including anyway. He hit just .143/.348/.371 over his first 12 games of the year before going .421/.511/.868 over his next 10. He's since gone hitless over his last two but still has an excellent 1.020 OPS on this season, good for sixth among qualified hitters. He sits second with 26 RBI and is tied for third with seven homers.
Park should bat right in front of Kim out of the third spot in the order. He started the season very hot, opening the year with a 16-game hitting streak. He's fallen off lately and has just a .614 OPS over his last eight games, though his 5:2 BB:K over that stretch remains strong. The 30-year-old outfielder has a long track record as a strong hitter, posting an OPS of .840 or above in six straight seasons, helping the Bears reach the Korean Series in all six.
I've gone with Yang here over Kyoung Min Hur ($4,900) for budget reasons and because Yang hits directly after Kim in the number five spot, though either hitter is worth a look. Yang didn't play much of a role for the Twins last season, posting a .675 OPS in just 132 plate appearances. He's thrived following an offseason trade between the local rivals and owns a .302/.330/.448 slash line through 103 trips to the plate. He's riding a five-game hitting streak, driving in six runs over that stretch, and should get several chances to drive in more runs Sunday.
While it's been the Lions' first-ranked pitching staff more than their fifth-ranked lineup that deserves most of the credit for the team's surprising spot atop the standings, the team's best hitters have gotten off to very promising starts and make for very interesting options at their hitter-friendly home park. They should be as interesting as ever against the 20-year-old Lee on Sunday. Lee was a fifth-overall pick back in 2019, so he may have some potential, but he hasn't come close to establishing himself at the KBO level. He's thrown just 5.1 career innings, including 2.2 in his first career start against the Wiz in early April. He didn't allow a run in that outing but walked four of the 14 batters he faced.
A lefty on the mound for the Twins means we'll skip Ja Wook Koo here in favor of a pair of expensive right-handed options. Pirela didn't look like the most inspired foreign hitter signing after posting a modest .723 OPS in Japan last year and .448 mark in his first six KBO games, but he's been on fire since then. Over his last 18 contests, he's hit a remarkable .417/.469/.875 with nine homers, 17 runs and 20 RBI. Eight of his nine homers have come in homer-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park, so he should have a good chance to become the second player to reach double digits this season Sunday.
Kang has been one of the league's best catchers for most of his 18-year career. His 19 homers and .839 OPS last season trailed only Eui Ji Yang among regular backstops. So far this season, he's ahead of even Yang in both categories, ranking first at the position with five homers and a 1.104 OPS. Not only does that OPS lead all catchers, it trails only Aaron Altherr's 1.124 mark among all qualified hitters at any position. He homered twice Saturday and could add another with the platoon advantage against Lee here.
Unlike many of his teammates, Kim hasn't gotten off to a hot start, but he remains locked into the leadoff spot, which should help him benefit from the success of those hitting behind him. His .233/.352/.267 slash line is quite poor, but that's not who he should be expected to be going forward. He's maintained his strong eye, walking 15.2 percent of the time to go with a low 10.5 percent strikeout rate. Once his .267 BABIP rises, his batting average will jump with it, potentially ending up near his .304 mark from last season. While he went hitless Saturday, he'd recorded multi-hit games in three of his previous four contests.