This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Thursday's KBO action featured quite a lot of runs, with four teams scoring at least seven. The two highest scores came in the Giants' 17-9 blowout win over the Tigers. Jun Woo Jeon grabbed four hits for the Giants, with Chi Hong An and Dixon Machado each driving in four runs. Elsewhere, Kang Nam Yoo's three-hit day and Andrew Suarez's seven innings of two-run ball helped the Twins beat the rival Bears, 7-2, while Suk Min Park's four-hit, five RBI day helped the Dinos beat the Landers by a similar 7-1 score.
Friday's slate, which features a new set of matchups, could be considerably lower-scoring. The group of starting pitchers contains three former major leaguers as well as several of the league's best local arms.
Aaron Brooks ($8,100) is the top value on the slate, as it's unusual to see a pitcher of his talent level as merely the fourth most expensive arm available. He doesn't have the easiest matchup against the fourth-ranked Bears lineup, but he's proven to be good enough to shut out anybody through his first 29 starts in Korea. He hasn't quite matched his 2.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP from his debut KBO season, but there's little reason to complain about his 2.70 ERA and 1.34 WHIP this season. His strikeouts were perhaps worryingly low through his first four outings, as he'd managed no more than three in any of those starts, but he's since struck out five and nine in his last two, giving him a high ceiling to go with what should be a very high floor.
I wouldn't have believed you last season if you'd told me that Tae In Won ($9,100) would be the most expensive pitcher on a slate this year, as 4.89 ERA and 1.56 were competent enough for a 20-year-old but certainly weren't anything exciting. He looks like an entirely different pitcher in his age-21 season, however, and we possibly shouldn't be too surprised that a pitcher who held his own that young has more to offer as he matures. His strikeout rate has taken a massive leap, going from 12.5 percent to 29.3 percent, and it's helped lower his ERA and WHIP to 1.16 and 1.00, respectively. Some regression is inevitable, but it may not come Friday against the righty-heavy Giants lineup.
Chan Heon Jung ($7,600) returned to the rotation last season for the first time since his rookie campaign back in 2008 and had plenty of success. His workload was managed carefully, as he was limited to just 19 starts, but the plan clearly worked, as his 3.51 ERA was the best mark among Korean pitchers who threw at least 100 innings and the ninth-best mark among pitchers of any nationality. This year, he owns a 1.64 ERA through four starts, though regression towards last year's numbers should come eventually, as he's been helped by a .213 BABIP and 94.1 percent strand rate. He shouldn't have much trouble keeping his strong start going Friday, however, as he'll face an Eagles lineup which ranks seventh in scoring.
Jose Pirela ($6,000) didn't look like a particularly inspired foreign hitter signing coming off a year in which he hit a modest .266/.312/.411 for Hiroshima in Japan. He didn't look good in his first six games in Korea, either, stumbling to a .448 OPS. Since that point, he's lit the league on fire, hitting .412/.463/.824 with nine homers, 21 runs and 22 RBI in his last 21 games. He clearly loves playing at hitter-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park, as eight of his nine homers have come at home. He could make that nine out of 10 Friday against Giants Righty Se Woong Park, who owns a 5.19 ERA through five starts, giving up 1.7 HR/9, the second-worst mark among qualified starters.
Sticking with the Lions, Ja Wook Koo ($5,700) will get the platoon advantage against Park in his hitter-friendly home stadium and looks set for a big day as well. For most of his career, the 28-year-old outfielder has been one of the league's better hitters in everything except the power department, as he's a career .318 hitter who averaged a respectable but hardly exciting 16 homers over his first six seasons. He has five already this year, putting him on pace for a career-high 25.7, and he hasn't sacrificed any contact to get there, as he's hitting .340. He's also running more than ever, as his eight steals put him on pace for 41.1, smashing the career high of 19 that he set last season.
Sok Min Park ($2,800) didn't make it into the Dinos stack listed below, but he's a strong budget option if you can't fit in all of the team's most expensive bats. The 35-year-old was once one of the league's best hitters, hitting .307 with 32 homers in his first season as a Dino in 2016 after reaching six straight Korean Series with the Lions. He's faded a bit in the latter stages of his career, but not nearly as much as his price tag suggests. He hit a strong .306/.436/.466 last season and has homered five times in 16 games already this year, hitting .283/.345/.623.
Yoo Seom Han ($3,600) offers an inexpensive way to grab a piece of the Landers' lineup against Heroes righty Won Tae Choi, whose 4.32 ERA comes with a 1.72 WHIP. Injuries limited Han (who went by the given name "Dong Min" at the time) to just 62 games last season, but he still managed an impressive 15 homers, the equivalent of 35.8 over a full season. He's hit just three homers in 26 games thus far this season, but his .258/.374/.416 line is decent enough for his price tag. With the platoon advantage against Choi and three multi-hit games in his last seven, he looks like a good value play here.
Stacks to Consider
It's possible Bae has found some secret way to reliably outpitch his peripherals, but it's generally wise to bet against that being the case. His 3.95 ERA was quite solid, but it came with a 5.14 FIP, as neither his 13.4 percent strikeout rate nor his 12.3 percent walk rate were anything close to good. He's up to his old tricks against this season, posting a 3.76 ERA that isn't remotely supported by his 5.20 FIP. He's at least increased his strikeout rate to 17.2 percent, but his walk rate has risen to match that mark. Walking as many batters as you strike out isn't a sustainable path to success in any league, and a date with the league's highest-scoring lineup could make that very clear.
The stack listed here features the best trio of hitters in the league. It's quite an expensive one, but it looks more feasible than usual given the capable mid-priced pitchers on the slate and given that Na remains cheaper than usual. Altherr was a very good player last season but has jumped to a new level this year, leading all qualified hitters in both OPS (1.156) and homers (11). Yang has been as dominant as ever, ranking fifth among qualified hitters with a 1.019 OPS. He's well on his way towards his fourth straight season with an OPS north of 1.000, a remarkable feat at any position, let alone catcher. Na's .939 OPS is a step down from the .989 mark he posted last year but is hardly anything to complain about. He's homered five times in his last seven games and is coming off three straight two-hit contests.
Finding a second pitcher worth stacking against is difficult on this loaded slate, but I'm going with the second-ranked Wiz offense against Parsons here. Like all new foreign pitchers, Parsons should be assumed to be one of the better arms in the KBO until proving otherwise. His numbers through four starts certainly don't constitute that proof, but he's been far from convincing. He's struck out a strong 20.0 percent of opposing batters, but his 15.6 percent walk rate is far too high. That's led to a 4.74 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. He got lit up by the sixth-ranked Heroes offense in his last start, allowing seven runs in three innings, and he'll face a much tougher challenge Friday.
The trio listed here should bat third through fifth in the Wiz order and should account for the bulk of the Wiz offense against Parsons. Kang has to lead the team's lineup now that reigning MVP Mel Rojas Jr. is plying his trade in Japan and Jae Gyun Hwang is out for two months with a broken nose, but he's very capable of filling that role. His .404 average leads all qualified hitters, and he should see his power pick up soon after hitting just two homers thus far, as he managed 23 last year. Almonte posted a modest .705 OPPS through his first 15 games in Korea but has since gone on to hit .327/.364/.538 with three homers in his last 12. Bae hits for modest power (just one homer this year and 13 last season) but is a strong hitter nonetheless, hitting .316 with an .837 OPS.