This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
A new week of KBO action sees six teams separated by just two games atop the standings, with the Heroes falling slightly off the pace at 4.5 games out after losing eight of their last 11. The Landers held onto first place with their 4-1 win over the Bears on Sunday, with Wilmer Font striking out 12 while allowing just one run in eight innings of work in one of the best starts of the season. Plenty of strong stack options were available as well, including on both sides of the Eagles' wild 13-10 win over the Dinos, which featured a seven-run bottom of the sixth by the Dinos only for the Eagles to return in the top of the seventh with eight runs of their own.
Tuesday's slate features a large number of decent starters but few true top-tier or bottom-tier ones. Rain does not appear to be a factor as of writing.
Jake Brigham ($9,700) wasn't brought back by the Heroes over the winter, perhaps in part due to the elbow issues he battled at various points last season. He instead signed with the Wei Chuan Dragons in Taiwan, where his dominant 0.60 ERA in eight starts convinced the Heroes to take him back. Since his return, he's had three quality starts and one poor outing, resulting in a 2.92 ERA, a number which isn't quite supported by his 1.42 WHIP. His combination of a 19.2 percent strikeout rate and 11.5 percent walk rate is fine but wouldn't normally justify the top price tag on a slate. The spot seems accurate, though, considering his past success and the fact that he gets to face the ninth-ranked Eagles lineup.
The Wiz have to be thrilled to have Young Pyo Ko ($9,000) back after he missed the last two seasons due to Korea's mandatory military service. He hasn't missed a beat, tossing quality starts in eight of his nine trips to the mound this season en route to a 3.65 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. The lone exception was his mid-May start against the Lions, in which he allowed six runs, but he's followed that up with two of his best starts of the year, allowing just two runs on seven hits over 13.2 innings while striking out 14 and walking just three. Ko has walked just 3.9 percent of opposing batters on the year while striking out 20.6 percent, a near match for the 21.0 percent strikeout rate and 3.3 percent walk rate he produced over his two seasons as a starter in 2017 and 2018. The fifth-ranked Landers shouldn't prove to be too tough a task for the righty, who's been consistent throughout the year.
Casey Kelly ($7,700) hasn't been at his best this season and is stuck facing the top-ranked Dinos lineup, but his price tag is simply far too appealing given his history. Among pitchers who threw at least 250 innings over the last two KBO seasons, his 2.93 ERA ranked second, while his 1.15 WHIP ranked third. He wasn't a premier strikeout threat, whiffing a modest 17.9 percent of opposing batters, but he combined that with a strong 5.6 percent walk rate. He's fallen off slightly across the board this season. His 3.57 ERA and 1.28 WHIP through 10 starts aren't anything close to bad, though his 16.2 percent strikeout rate and 9.3 percent walk rate suggest he's overachieving. Kelly's last three starts paint a particularly weird picture, as his May 22 start against the Landers saw him allow five runs but post a 10:1 K:BB, while his starts on either side of that outing saw him allow a combined one run but with a poor 6:4 K:BB. I'm still not totally sure what to make of him this year, but he's cheap enough that I'm interested even in this confusing version of him.
The Twins have gotten very little from Roberto Ramos this season, but Hyun Soo Kim ($5,000) is doing everything he can to carry the offense on his own. His .322/.415/.506 slash line is right in line with his .331/.404/.523 line from last year. He's been on a roll over his last 12 games, going hitless just once, and the high average should remain going forward, as he's striking out at a 9.8 percent clip, his third straight year with a single-digit strikeout rate. He'll get the platoon advantage Tuesday against Dinos right Wes Parsons, who's been fine in his first taste of KBO action but is far from intimidating, posting a 4.13 ERA.
Kim is one of the league's elite contact hitters, but Jose Fernandez ($5,100) is on another level entirely. His 6.4 percent strikeout rate this season ranks second among all qualified hitters, the same spot he occupied with his nearly identical 6.3 percent mark last season. He's been remarkably consistent across his three KBO campaigns, posting batting averages of .344, .340 and now .340 again. He's not useless in the power department, either, hitting seven homers this season and slugging .489 overall. He'll get what should be a good matchup Tuesday, as he'll have the platoon advantage against Giants righty Enderson Franco and his 5.18 ERA.
Sticking with the Bears, In Tae Kim ($3,800) will be a good bargain as long as he remains locked into the second spot in the order, which should be the case at least until Kun Woo Park returns from his abdominal injury. Kim didn't enter this year with much of a track record, having never posted an OPS above .719 over parts of five seasons, none of which saw him come to the plate more than 110 times. He's risen to the challenge in a regular role this season, however, hitting .277/.396/.423. That may not be an elite line, but it's more than enough to keep him interesting given his prime spot in one of the league's best lineups.
Ah Seop Son ($3,100) finished second in the race for the batting title last season, hitting .352 for the year, the latest in a stretch of 11 straight seasons in which he hit .352 or better. Through 28 games this season, he wasn't having nearly the same success, hitting just .240, a problem made worse by the fact that he showed next to no power, doubling just three times and not hitting a single homer. He's finally found his stroke over his last 20 games, hitting .333 with nine multi-hit performances. He's still yet to homer this season and is slugging just .299 for the year, but that should come soon now that he's finally turning things around. He won't need to homer to be useful at his low price Tuesday, and he'll get a good matchup against Bears righty Jung Soo Park, who's made just three starts this season and owns a career 6.10 ERA.
Stacks to Consider
On a slate full of mostly decent pitchers, Jo stands out as the clear worst. The Landers may lead the league, but they're in the midst of an injury crisis in the rotation, with Jong Hun Park (elbow) and Seung Won Moon (elbow) both out and Artie Lewicki (pectoral) released due to injury problems. They're going to have to get creative to plug the holes those pitchers leave behind, but there's little reason to believe Jo will be a lasting solution. He's pitched exclusively in relief this season, with his 7.54 ERA and 1.90 WHIP hardly suggesting he'll make for a strong starter. Looking back over the rest of his career doesn't paint a much more optimistic pitcher, as he owns a lifetime 6.82 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in 124 KBO innings. He hasn't thrown more than 43 pitches this season and hasn't cracked 30 pitches since mid-April, so he's unlikely to last long in this game, as much as the Wiz might want him to.
Kang is the obvious centerpiece of any Wiz stack. His status as the most expensive hitter on the slate is well-deserved, as he leads all qualified hitters in the first two elements of his incredible .419/.495/.602 slash line while ranking second in the third. Hwang missed over a month after requiring surgery for a broken nose, but he's gone 8-for-22 at the plate since his return at the start of June and now owns a .333/.417/.422 slash line. More power should come soon, as he topped 20 homers in each of his last five seasons. Almonte fell short of the lofty expectations for a foreign hitter at the start of the year but has turned things around recently. He struggled to a .702 OPS over his first 41 games but owns a 1.139 OPS over his last nine.
There's plenty to like about Eui Lee Lee, an 18-year-old rookie who was selected by the Tigers in the regional round (a round which precedes the rest of the draft in which teams can select a player from their local area) of the most recent draft. His 4.30 ERA through his first nine KBO starts is perfectly respectable, while his 26.1 percent strikeout rate is good for any pitcher regardless of their experience level. He was much better at the start of the year, however, as he posted a 2.42 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 25:9 K:BB in his first four starts before struggling to a 6.23 ERA, 1.80 WHIP and 24:17 K:BB over his last five. That doesn't bode well for him Tuesday, as he'll head into the league's most hitter-friendly park to face a Lions lineup which can be quite scary at home.
We'll go with a trio of righties here against the young southpaw. Pirela has emerged as one of the best hitters in the entire league, as his .968 OPS ranks fourth among qualified hitters while his 13 homers tie him for first. He's especially dangerous at home, where he's hit 10 of those home runs. The 35-year-old Kang has been one of the top offensive backstops in the league for well over a decade, and he's shown no signs of slowing down. His .930 OPS is his best mark since 2016. Won Seok Lee helps keep this stack affordable and will get the platoon advantage Tuesday. He's not an elite hitter but is a quality option at a low price whenever the Lions are playing at home. His .722 OPS on the season is unimpressive, but he's hit .409/.462/.591 over his last seven games.