This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Friday's KBO slate was almost completely wiped out, with dust pollution causing the cancellation of four of the five games. Only the matchup between the first-place Lions and the Giants, which took place in the southeast corner of the country in Daegu, was spared. The Lions moved to two games clear of the rest of the pack following another excellent outing by 21-year-old righty Tae In Won, who allowed one run in seven innings.
The cancellations mean that Saturday's slate will feature four doubleheaders. Those doubleheaders will take place at 12:58 am ET and will make up the bulk of the slate alongside the Giants-Lions contest which will occur three hours later. Note that the KBO doesn't play seven-inning doubleheaders like MLB now does, though games will end in a tie after nine innings if the score is even, with no extra innings getting played.
David Buchanan ($9,500) was more good than great last season, as his 3.45 ERA came with a modest 16.6 percent strikeout rate. This year, however, he's fully deserving of being the most expensive pitcher on the slate. He's cut his ERA to 1.86 through six starts, and while it likely won't remain that low, a jump in his strikeout rate up to 24.5 percent suggests that he's pitching considerably better than last year. He'd allowed just a single run over a four-start stretch before giving up a respectable three in six frames against the Twins his last time out. He does have to pitch in hitter-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park on Saturday, but he'll do so against a righty-heavy Giants lineup that shouldn't give him too much trouble.
Paying up for Buchanan is easier to do when there are multiple surprisingly affordable options to pair with him. Won Joon Choi ($7,300) is confusingly cheap for a pitcher with his numbers. Through five starts, he owns a 1.91 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, backing those up with a 20.5 percent strikeout rate and 6.3 percent walk rate. The latter nearly matches his 6.6 percent walk rate from last season, but the former represents a step forward from his 17.7 percent strikeout rate in 2020, a jump that's made even more impressive by the fact that he spent much of last year in the bullpen. He'll face a Tigers lineup Saturday that has struggled to score this season, ranking second-last in runs per game.
Seung Won Moon ($7,100) is one of the top domestic pitchers in the KBO, so it's a bit of a mystery why he's so affordable. Last season, his 3.65 ERA trailed only Chae Heung Choi among qualified Korean starters and ranked ninth among qualified starters of any nationality. This season, he's cut his ERA to 2.96, though a drop in his strikeout rate from 19.2 percent to 14.2 percent suggests that may not be entirely sustainable. Still, he remains a quality option and shouldn't be tested much Saturday by a Heroes lineup which ranks a modest sixth in scoring.
If Moon's strikeout-rate drop worries you, selecting some Heroes against him isn't the worst idea, as truly poor pitchers are in short supply on this slate. Jung Hoo Lee ($4,400) will get the platoon advantage against him and remains very affordable despite the fact that his bat is starting to come around. His .262/.380/.357 line through his first 11 games wasn't terrible but was beneath his usual standards, but he's since gone on to hit .328/.425/.463 over his last 17. He's still yet to homer this season after hitting 15 last year, but the rest of the package is still enough to justify his price tag.
Baek Ho Kang ($5,400) is leading the Wiz lineup with reigning MVP Mel Rojas Jr. now in Japan and Jae Gyun Hwang out two months with a broken nose, but he's proven to be very much up for the challenge. His .404 batting average is 22 points better than anyone else in the league. His two homers are a low figure for a player who averaged 21.7 over his first three years in the league, but he's showing excellent contact and control of the zone, cutting his strikeout rate from 16.2 percent to 10.7 percent while walking 11.6 percent of the time. He'll get the platoon advantage against Dinos righty Wes Parsons, who owns a mediocre 4.74 ERA and 1.68 WHIP through his first four starts in Korea.
Sticking with the Wiz, leadoff man Yong Ho Cho ($3,800) will also get the platoon advantage against Parsons and is a cheaper way to grab a piece of a lineup that ranks second in scoring even with some significant absences. Cho has effectively no power–he's never hit a homer in over a thousand career plate appearances and owns a career .329 slugging percentage–but setting the table for Baek Ho Kang comes with plenty of benefits. He's very good in his role, as his 15.9 percent walk rate has helped him to a .390 on-base percentage, a near match for his .392 mark from last year.
Yoo Seom Han ($3,600) featured in this spot for Friday's slate and appears again for the same reasons after that game got canceled, as he comes with the same price tag and will face the same pitcher. He 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
Im had some strong results early last season but struggled later in the year, finishing the season with an unimpressive 5.15 ERA. Poor performances are generally the norm for Im, who posted ERAs of 5.73 and 6.26 in the two previous campaigns. Those numbers look practically elite next to his 9.16 ERA through four starts this year, however. That figure comes with a 1.71 WHIP and an 11:11 K:BB, so there's not much of a silver lining here for the Tigers.
The stack listed here is a bit of an unusual one, featuring hitters who are expected to bat second, fourth and sixth. Fernandez finished in the top five in batting average in each of his first two years in Korea, posting marks of .340 or better each season. In that context, his .324/.400/.476 slash line practically counts as a disappointment, but he's still as likely as anyone in the league to record a multi-hit game.
Jae Hwan Kim may be slightly overrated as the most expensive hitter on the slate, though there's nothing to complain about in his .276/.413/.563 slash line. Getting the platoon advantage against Im could help him launch his eighth homer of the year. In Tae Kim is included here to keep the stack somewhat affordable (each of the Bears' top five hitters costs at least $5,000), but he's interesting enough in his own right. He didn't do much with his limited at-bats in his first five seasons in the league, though he showed some promise with a 21:13 BB:K last year. This season, he's again walking more than he's striking out (11:9 BB:K) while hitting .327.
It doesn't take much for a lineup to be worth stacking at hitter-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park, and a matchup against Seo easily clears that bar. He's pitched exclusively in relief this season, posting a respectable 4.50 ERA in 12 innings, though that comes with a very poor 4:7 K:BB. Seo is just 20 years old and was the Giants' regional-round pick in the 2019 draft, so there could be some potential here, but he hasn't shown much thus far in his KBO career. In 20 starts and 11 relief appearances last season, he struggled to a 5.18 ERA and 1.50 WHIP.
The trio listed here contains the batters who hit second through fourth in each of the Lions' last two games. Pirela has filled up the leaderboard during his time in Korea, ranking second in OPS (1.036) and homers (nine), with all but one of those home runs coming at home. Koo ranks one spot behind Pirela in OPS with a mark of 1.031 and sits tied for second with eight steals. Oh missed most of April with a ruptured abdominal muscle and has yet to really get going through his first nine games as a Lion, but he's a very affordable option at first base if he can approach his .312/.391/.482 line from his final season as a Bear.