This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Thursday's KBO fantasy slate was wiped out, as rain allowed just a single game to go forward. That contest, an indoor game between the Giants and Heroes, didn't shape up to be the expected pitchers' duel between Dan Straily and Eric Jokisch, as the Heroes jumped on Straily for eight runs (five earned) in 3.2 innings and went on to win 9-4. Jung Hoo Lee led the way offensively, going 3-for-5 with an RBI and a pair of runs. Friday's slate thankfully appears to be rain-free. The better pitchers who were scheduled to pitch Thursday have mostly been pushed back by a day, while the worse ones have been skipped, leading to a slate that's full of reliable pitching.
Odrisamer Despaigne ($9,200) was most notable in his KBO debut last season for being an innings eater. His 207.2 innings led the league, with only three other starters coming within 30 frames of that mark, though his 4.33 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in those innings was far from exciting. This year, he's again handled a heavy workload, as his 64.2 innings rank third in the league, but he's suddenly producing a 2.09 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. There's been some good luck involved, as seen in his .265 BABIP, but he's also increased his strikeout rate from 16.4 percent to 21.1 percent. He's coming off an outing which saw him allow a season-high four earned runs against the Tigers, but he should get back on track Friday against a righty-heavy Giants lineup that ranks seventh in runs per game.
Drew Rucinski ($8,300) is a model of consistency. His 3.05 ERA through his first 10 starts this season is an exact match for the mark he produced in each of his two previous seasons in Korea. While he's very stable season-to-season, he's been considerably less stable game-to-game this year, as seen in his runs allowed in his five May starts: seven, zero, one, six and zero. Taking the good with the bad reveals a pitcher who's arguably pitching as well as he ever has in the KBO, as his 24.7 percent strikeout rate is well above his 21.7 percent mark from 2020 and has more than made up for his jump in walk rate from 7.4 percent to 9.4 percent. The new, higher-whiff version of Rucinski is even more exciting from a fantasy perspective, especially against the ninth-ranked Eagles offense.
Won Joon Choi ($7,300) is easily the most interesting of the day's cheaper arms. The righty started last season as a reliever but was called upon to start following injuries and underperformance by some of the Bears' other starters. He finished the year as a stable, mid-rotation option, posting a 3.29 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 18 starts. Choi carried that momentum into this season and has been even better, cruising to a 2.68 ERA and 1.15 WHIP through nine starts. He's increased his strikeout rate from 16.5 percent to 18.1 percent while shaving his already strong 6.2 percent walk rate down to 5.7 percent, the third-best mark among qualified starters. He has enough of a track record at this point that he'd be worth consideration even at a far more expensive price, and a matchup against a middle-of-the-pack Landers lineup that ranks fifth in scoring isn't nearly enough to scare me away from him.
Baek Ho Kang ($6,000) may already be the league's best hitter at just 21 years old. In fact, it might be harder to make the case that he isn't than to make the case that he is, as he leads the league in batting average (.419), on-base percentage (.502) and OPS (1.111). Those numbers will surely fall along with his .456 BABIP going forward, though his excellent contact quality has always led to high numbers in that category. His .373 career BABIP stands as the second-best mark (trailing only Sung Bum Na) among qualified hitters since his debut back in 2018. Kang has hit .583 over his last seven games and will look to extend his hitting streak to eight against Giants righty Se Woong Park, who owns a 4.96 ERA on the year.
A deep group of starting pitchers means you might have to select some players with sub-par matchups. Eui Ji Yang ($5,000) is among the best available options if you go that route. He'll face Eagles lefty Ryan Carpenter, who owns a 2.59 ERA on the year but allowed seven runs in his latest outing. Yang is good enough that he's nearly matchup-proof, as he's tied with Kang for the OPS crown. He'd be a strong option at any position, but he laps the field at catcher, where no one else comes with 2.7 DraftKings points per game of his position-leading mark of 10.6.
Hyoung Woo Choi's ($3,900) affordable price tag looks very deserved according to his poor .200/.377/.337 season slash line, but it's a huge bargain compared to what we've seen from him in the recent past. Choi won the batting title last season with a .354 average and added 28 homers while finishing second in the league with a 1.023 OPS. Some regression is certainly to be expected in his age-37 season, but a drop of over 300 points in OPS isn't likely to stick. His struggles could be related to the eye condition that caused him to miss most of May. He returned to the starting lineup Wednesday, reaching base twice and hitting an RBI double. His price could rise quickly if he gets back to last season's form, something he could continue to do Friday against Twins righty Min Ho Lee, who's struggled to a 5.45 ERA through seven starts.
While Odrisamer Despaigne did earn top billing in the PItchers section above, he's coming off his worst start of the year, so taking a flyer on a Giant or two in larger tournaments in hopes that he throws a second straight dud could be worth a look. Ah Seop Son ($3,400) looks like the best bet, as he's affordable and will be one of the few Giants to get the platoon advantage against the righty. Son trailed only the aforementioned Choi for the batting title last season, finishing second with a .352 mark. High averages have been a theme for him throughout his career, as he's hit above .320 seven times. He's been far worse than expected this season, hitting just .262 on the year, but he's shown signs of life over his last 10 games, hitting .294. That, along with his long track record as an elite contact hitter, is enough to keep him interesting as long as he remains inexpensive.
Stacks to Consider
Im wouldn't be the top stack target on most slates, but he's near the bottom of what looks like one of the deeper groups of starters we've seen all year. The righty started last year off well but collapsed as the season went on, finishing the year with a 5.15 ERA, a poor mark but still his best since 2017. He started this year terribly, struggling to an 8.14 ERA through his first five starts. He's been much better lately, allowing just four runs across his last three outings, but that's only been enough to drag his ERA down to 5.48. That solid recent stretch would keep him out of stack territory most nights, but his overall track record (including a 5.13 career ERA) makes him one of the most appealing targets Friday given the alternatives.
Finding a good Twins stack has been harder than expected this season, with a number of the team's top hitters underperforming. This group features three batters who should hit in the top four spots in the order. Kim, the lone Twins hitter with MLB experience, has remained reliable, with his .938 OPS representing a slight improvement on his .927 mark from last season. He'll look to extend his 10-game hitting streak Friday. Leadoff man Hong will also get the platoon advantage against Im and has been an excellent table-setter. His .451 on-base percentage (the product of a .305 batting average and an 18.6 percent walk rate) ranks second among qualified hitters, helping him score 37 runs, two shy of the league lead. Cleanup man Chae has been strong since returning from a sprained finger in early May. He's hit .293 with five homers and 24 RBI in 23 games since returning to the lineup.
Like Im, Oh wouldn't necessarily be one of the top pitchers to pick on most nights, but he sits near the bottom of Friday's strong group of starters. The 20-year-old lefty has potential, as he was taken with a regional-round pick (a round which precedes the rest of the draft in which teams can select a player from their local area) in the 2020 draft. His 4.95 ERA suggests he's held his own through six starts and seven relief appearances this season, but his 1.63 WHIP is far from convincing. He's brought his ERA down over his last three outings by allowing just two earned runs in 14.1 frames, but a 10:10 K:BB over that stretch casts doubt on the idea that he's actually improved. Walks have been a problem for the young southpaw throughout the year, with his 13.8 percent walk rate largely offsetting a strong 20.7 percent strikeout rate.
A lefty on the mound means we'll lead with the Bears' righties here, a group that's down a key member in Kun Woo Park (abdomen). Yang came over in an offseason trade from the local rival Twins having never previously produced an OPS north of .758. He's been far better than expected for his new team, producing an .850 OPS while hitting 10 homers, putting him on pace for 31, a number which would smash his previous career high of 22. Leadoff man Hur isn't nearly the same home-run threat, having never hit more than 10 in a season, but he remains one of the league's best contact hitters. His 7.1 percent strikeout rate is the third-best mark in the league and has helped him to a .319 average. I've gone with Fernandez over a cheaper righty to round things out. He's shown less power in his KBO career against same-sided pitching but makes plenty of contact, with his .342 career batting average against lefties nearly matching his .343 mark against righties.