This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Saturday's KBO slate featured three top-tier pitchers and seven very unreliable arms, though the action didn't quite play out as expected. Drew Rucinski and David Buchanan both allowed four runs in their starts, leaving Young Pyo Ko as the top option on the night, as he allowed just one run in 8.1 innings to help the Wiz topple Rucinski's Dinos by an 8-1 score. Seong Gi Kim also had a strong day, holding the Bears to one run in six innings of work, though the Bears would come back to tie the Heroes, 3-3. On the offensive side, Dae In Hwang homered twice as the Tigers upset the Twins, 9-6, while Jae Il Oh also cleared the fence twice to help the Lions past the Landers, 9-4. Elsewhere, five Eagles had multi-hit nights, with In Ho Choi homering twice and driving in five runs, as the basement-dwellers blew out the Giants by a score of 13 to 2.
Sunday's slate starts at 1:00 a.m. ET and should remain at the full five games, as rain doesn't look like a factor. The games feature a fairly standard split of strong and weak pitching.
Nick Kingham ($9,800) is my favorite of the most expensive tier of pitchers throwing Sunday. He did allow four earned runs in his previous outing against the Landers, just one fewer than he gave up over his four previous starts combined, but his 8:1 K:BB in that outing means I haven't lost much confidence in him. Over his last three starts, he's now struck out 28 batters while walking just four, raising his strikeout rate on the season to 22.9 percent while cutting his walk rate to 6.9 percent. That 16 percent K-BB rate is good for fourth among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings and makes his 3.17 ERA look very deserved. He should be in for another strong night against the seventh-ranked Giants lineup.
Daniel Mengden ($8,400) has struggled to a 5.72 ERA over his last five starts, but his 26:5 K:BB over that stretch suggests he's deserved much better. That's more or less been the case for him all season, as his combination of a 20.9 percent strikeout rate and 7.1 percent walk rate would ordinarily translate to an ERA better than his mediocre 4.44 mark. Elevated home run rates have been a problem, as he's allowed 1.4 HR/9, but that should be less of an issue Sunday, as he'll pitch in the league's most pitcher-friendly park, Jamsil Baseball Stadium, against a Twins team that ranks eighth in scoring.
The opposite side of that same contest features the most interesting inexpensive option on the night. Chan Kyu Im's ($7,300) 4.57 ERA and 1.43 WHIP on the season aren't anything special, but they're both held back by his two awful starts to open the season. He allowed 11 runs in 4.2 innings while striking out two and walking eight in those two outings, but he's been far better since returning from a demotion in late June. In his last seven starts, he owns a 2.66 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He's unlikely to remain quite that good down the stretch, as his merely decent 4.08 ERA last season represented a career-best mark, but he could well look that good for at least one more start, as he probably doesn't even need his pitcher-friendly home park to help shut down the last-ranked Tigers lineup.
Shortstop is a shallow position in KBO daily fantasy contests, as you might expect or a defense-first position in a 10-team league, but Ju Suk Ha ($4,600) is doing his part to help change that. Ha posted an unimpressive .671 OPS last season, but he's nearly 100 points better in that category this season, with his .765 OPS ranking second among all regulars at the position (not counting Jeong Choi, who's eligible there on DraftKings despite the fact that his last start at the position came back in 2012). Ha has been particularly hot over his last 20 games, slashing .329/.368/.488 while stealing nine bases. He'll get the platoon advantage Sunday against Giants righty In Bok Lee, who owns a 6.57 ERA.
The Lions are typically less interesting when they're not playing at their hitter-friendly home park, but I'm interested in Jae Il Oh ($4,300) on this slate nonetheless. He's interesting in part for his matchup, as he'll get the platoon advantage against Landers righty Min Jun Choi, who owns a 6.18 ERA and 1.93 WHIP while spending most of the year in relief. He's also plenty interesting in his own right, however, as he's shown a big burst of power in his last 11 games, homering five times and driving in 13 runs while hitting .317/.370/.756.
Sticking with the Lions, the matchup against Choi also makes Sang Su Kim ($2,300) a compelling budget choice at either second or third base. His season numbers are still poor, as he owns a .609 OPS on the year, but he's held back by a terrible performance early in the season, as he hit .192/.292/.230 through his first 62 games. The switch flipped dramatically in late June, however, as he's since gone on to hit .314/.390/.388 in his last 39 games. That kind of line isn't an unsustainable one for the veteran infielder, as it looks quite similar to his .304/.396/.401 line from last season. His strong performances have seen him jump up from the ninth spot to sixth in the order, which makes him a playable option as long as he sticks there.
Speaking of lineup position, whoever occupies the top two spots in the Dinos order is nearly always a good budget choice, as that player gets to hit in front of Eui Ji Yang and Sung Bum Na, arguably the best one-two punch in the league. I've recommended Jeong Won Choi for that reason many times recently, but he's been in a bit of a slump lately, so I'll turn to Ki Hwan Kim ($3,200) instead. Kim is a very unproved player, as he had a grand total of two KBO plate appearances prior to this season, but he's moved into a regular role in the second half after the Dinos lost four players for the year due to health-protocol suspensions. He's occupied the number two spot in three straight games and should stick there Sunday, as he owns an .839 OPS over his last 12 games.
Stacks to Consider
Yu may have featured in this section ahead of each of his starts this season. The 35-year-old has some effective seasons on his resume in the first half of last decade, but he's well past his peak at this point. His 7.48 ERA and 2.13 WHIP through 11 starts tell the story well enough, but the rest of his statline hardly paints a better picture. He's struck out a pitiful 6.9 percent of opposing batters this season, a number which comes as little surprise given that his fastball averages less than 80 mph. The veteran lefty allows so much contact that I'm not really concerned about the platoon advantage here. The stack listed above features a pair of left-handed Lees alongside the right-handed Park, who's been slumping lately but should bounce back against Yu and is typically one of the best options at the shallow catcher position.
I expect plenty of scoring in this game, as the opposite side of the contest features a pitcher who's nearly as compelling to stack again. The 19-year-old Kim is 16 years Yu's junior, but he shares the veteran lefty's inability to miss bats. His fastball is barely harder than Yu's at just 80.8 mph, and it's led to a similarly miniscule 7.7 percent strikeout rate. He hasn't been punished for that too much this season, as his 4.48 ERA in 66.1 innings as a swingman is far from terrible, but it's unlikely he maintains that respectable number unless he learns how to miss bats. The Bears have plenty of hitters who can do damage when allowed to make that much contact. I've listed the team's three hottest bats above, but this could be a good day for Suk Hwan yang and Kyoung Min Heo to break out of their slumps as well.