This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Thursday's KBO slate was generally low-scoring, with seven teams managing no more than four runs and three teams crossing the plate just a single time. Good pitching wasn't hard to find, with Je Seong Bae allowing just three hits in six scoreless innings as the Wiz beat the Eagles, 3-1, while Woo Jin An returned from a suspension to strike out 10 Dinos in just 5.2 innings while giving up just onerun on four hits, helping the Heroes to a 4-1 victory. Elsewhere, Been Gwak and Seung Hyuk Han each tossed at least five innings without giving up an earned run, with Gwak's Bears eventually beating Han's Tigers by a 3-1 score. Good hitting was also available, if a bit rare, with Min Ho Kang and Jae Il Oh combining for five hits and a pair of homers in the Lions' 7-4 win over the Twins while Shin Soo Choo went 4-for-5 with two homers of his own in the Landers' 9-8 win over the Giants.
Friday's DraftKings' slate will contain just four games, as neither half of the Giants-Landers doubleheader will be included. The small slate contains more than its fair share of strong starting pitchers, though they're joined by a few very weak links.
Among the group of four foreign pitchers who dominate this slate, Odrisamer Despaigne ($8,000) is the cheapest and faces the easiest opponent, assuming you haven't drastically changed your opinion of the ninth-ranked Eagles offense just because they've had a trio of double-digit outbursts over the past week. Despaigne himself has also been different recently than he was for most of the season, as he struggled to a 5.88 ERA in his first seven starts of the second half. He rebounded with a gem his last time out against the Dinos, however, striking out eight while allowing zero earned runs on three hits over seven frames. That start and a matchup that should still be considered easy despite the Eagles' recent success gives me confidence that he'll return to being the guy who cruised to a 2.45 ERA in the first half.
David Buchanan ($8,700) comes in as the third most expensive pitcher and gets the next-easiest matchup among the top four, as he'll go to pitcher-friendly Jamsil Baseball Stadium to take on the eighth-ranked Twins lineup. He hasn't necessarily been at his best since the Olympic break, though his 4.10 ERA over seven second-half starts is far from poor. Combined with his excellent first-half performance, he still owns a 2.93 ERA, beating his 3.45 mark from last season by over half a run. That's come with a big jump in strikeout rate from 16.6 percent up to 21.5 percent, so there's reason to believe the improvement is largely sustainable.
I try to recommend at least one budget pitcher wherever possible, but I couldn't talk myself into any of the four cheapest options here, so I'll go with Drew Rucinski ($9,900) as Friday's final pitcher recommendation. Rucinski is deservedly the most expensive pitcher on the slate, as he's led the rest of the slate in DraftKings points per game and gets an easy enough matchup against the seventh-ranked Heroes lineup. Rucinski has been remarkably stable since joining the KBO in 2019, as his 3.01 ERA this season is almost identical to the 3.05 ERA he posted in each of the last two years. That ERA comes with a career-best 22.6 percent strikeout rate, as he's struck out at least six batters in 15 of his 23 starts.
The Lions' top bats are often somewhat overpriced when the team plays away from home, as their stats are inflated by playing half their games in the league's most hitter-friendly park, but I don't think that applies to Jae Il Oh ($4,700) here. Even at pitcher-friendly Jamsil Baseball Stadium, his home for the previous nine seasons as a member of the Bears, his second-tier price tag seems low given how he's been seeing the ball lately. He has multi-hit games in five of his last six, hitting .500 with four homers over that stretch. Zoom out a bit more and you'll see a .352/.422/.796 line with seven homers and 20 RBI over his last 16 games. Five of those homers have come away from the hitter-friendly confines of Daegu Samsung Lions Park, so there's reason to believe he can clear the fence Friday against Twins lefty Woo Chan Lee, whose poor 5.47 ERA and 1.63 WHIP cancel out the fact that he'll get the platoon advantage against Oh.
Jin Hyuk No ($4,200) isn't usually the name I recommend when I write up a Dino, largely because he usually hits near the bottom of the order, but a run of good form recently means he's found himself batting fifth in three of the team's last four games. He's certainly worth consideration at either middle infield spot if he bats there again Friday. He's now hitting .322/.404/.483 on the season, with his .887 OPS leading all middle infielders who have played at least 75 games. He's hit .310 with a pair of homers in nine games since returning from a back injury and should stay hot here with the platoon advantage against Heroes righty Won Tae Choi, who's allowed double-digit runs in two of his last four outings.
Sticking with the Dinos, the team has rotated through inexpensive options in the top two spots in the order throughout the second half as they look to cover for the four players who were suspended for the rest of the season due to COVID-19 protocol violations. All of the candidates are deservedly cheap on DraftKings and none has much of a resume, so whoever fills that role against Choi and gets to hit in front of the likes of Sung Bum Na and Eui Ji Yang makes for a very strong budget fantasy option. Min Su Jun ($2,000) comes as cheap as possible and filled the leadoff role Thursday, and he seems quite likely to keep it after going 3-for-4 at the plate. The 32-year-old has a modest .702 career OPS, but he's hitting .299/.356/.433 through 73 plate appearances this season, which more than justifies his minimal price tag.
Going back to the Lions, Dong Yub Kim ($2,400) is one of the best bargains available until his price begins to rise. His cheap price tag appears accurate next to his .656 OPS, but he's capable of much more. He showed that last season, hitting .312/.359/.508. He's also shown that recently, hitting .424/.441/.697 in eight games since returning from a well-deserved demotion to the Futures League following a very poor performance early in the season. He won't stay this hot going forward, but his numbers last season are much closer to what should be expected of him, as he's hit .275/.319/.468 across his six-year career. That's well more than enough to justify his inexpensive price tag even without considering the friendly matchup against Woo Chan Lee.
Stacks to Consider
The Bears sit second in scoring this season even while playing half their games in the league's most pitcher-friendly park, so they get even more exciting whenever they're away from home. They'd be a strong stack option here even against a mediocre opposing pitcher, and Yoon doesn't look like he even belongs in that category. He may be a rookie and he may have a 3.20 ERA in 45 innings this season, but there's little reason to have much faith in him. He only just made his debut this season at age 26, and his status as a ninth-round pick back in 2018 suggests he was never seen as having much potential. His ERA should rise to align with his lack of pedigree any day now, as he won't continue to reliably put KBO hitters away while striking out just 8.1 percent of opposing batters. Any of the Bears' usual top six hitters seems like a fine choice here, but I've gone with a trio of lefties who have regularly hit in the top four spots in recent days, with the emergence of the inexpensive Jung as the leadoff man making it easier to select expensive bats like Kim and Fernandez.
The opposite side of that same contest features what would easily be the best stack of the day if not for the fact that it's the last-ranked Tigers lineup which gets to face Yoo. It's too hard to pass up the chance to stack against the veteran lefty, however, so even the lowly Tigers are worth a look here. Yoo has managed to stick around for 11 seasons at the KBO level, but his time as a viable option is clearly coming to an end. Veteran guile and craftiness can only help so much when your fastball averages 79.8 mph, as we can see in his statline. He's now in his third straight season with a single-digit strikeout rate, with his 7.7 percent mark representing a career low and coming in below his walk rate (8.1 percent) for the first time. He occasionally gets away with allowing that much contact, as he did he last time out against the Heroes when he threw six shutout innings, but he usually doesn't, as you can see from his 6.67 ERA and 2.01 WHIP. The Tigers skew quite left-handed, which does help Yoo at least a bit, but we'll go here with the team's top two righties alongside the veteran Choi, who's cheap enough for his talent level that we can afford to ignore the platoon disadvantage.