This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Friday's four-game KBO slate on DraftKings looked like it would be very pitching-heavy, and that wound up being the case, as six of the eight teams scored no more than three runs. Ariel Miranda pitched the best game of the night, as he usually does, striking out nine over seven scoreless innings in the Bears' 2-0 win over the Twins. Bo Takahashi was excellent as well, striking out six in six scoreless frames against the Heroes while allowing just two hits and one walk as the Tigers earned a 6-0 victory. Good stacks weren't easy to find, though the Eagles' trio of Jae Hoon Choi, Ju Suk Ha and Si Hwan Roh returned good value, combining for seven runs in the team's 8-2 upset victory over the Lions.
We're back to a five-game slate Saturday, with the action starting at 4:00 a.m. ET. The games feature a much more standard spread of strong and shaky starting pitchers.
Casey Kelly ($10,100) is very expensive Saturday, but deservedly so. He bounced back from a poor outing against the Eagles to toss a gem in his last trip to the mound against the league-leading Wiz, allowing just two hits over six scoreless innings. Even with the occasional blip, he's been excellent throughout the second half, cruising to a 2.18 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over nine starts. It's not as if he was poor in the first half, either, though his 3.56 ERA and 1.33 WHIP prior to the break failed to meet the lofty standards he's set since he arrived in Korea in 2019. The sixth-ranked Heroes lineup won't be pushovers, but they shouldn't be a particularly tough assignment for a pitcher who's consistently been one of the best in the league for three straight seasons.
In the middle tier, Daniel Mengden ($8,700) looks like the strongest option. He hasn't been dominant in his first season overseas, as his 4.23 ERA and 1.31 WHIP indicate, though he certainly hasn't been bad. His 20.2 percent strikeout rate and 7.0 percent walk rate and both quite good and would ordinarily translate to a much better ERA, but he's been bitten by the long ball. His 1.2 HR/9 ranks third-worst among pitchers who have thrown at least 80 innings this season. That should be less of a problem Saturday, however, as he'll face an Eagles lineup that ranks second-worst in scoring and also second-worst in slugging.
If you want to take a chance on a cheaper arm, Min Hyeok Shin ($6,200) is your best bet. He's been very on or very off in his recent starts, as he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in three innings against the Bears back on Sept. 21 but surrounded that outing with a pair of starts in which he allowed a combined zero earned runs on eight hits in 13 innings of work. Overall, his low price seems deserved, as the bad has mostly outweighed the good this season, leading to a 5.05 ERA. Still, if you're going to take a risk on someone, you could do a lot worse than a pitcher who has two scoreless starts in his last three trips to the mound. It's hard to say which version Shin will show up Saturday, but a matchup against a righty-heavy Giants lineup that sits in the middle of the pack in scoring should give him a chance to make it three good starts out of four.
Baek Ho Kang ($5,400) had been slipping into a slump in recent weeks, hitting .154/.283/.205 over an 11-game stretch that ended Wednesday. Not everybody can hit .400 as late into the season as August 17 like he did, however, and given his incredible talent, I'm happy to jump back in at the slightest sign of him turning things around. He's shown that sign over his last three games, going 5-for-8 at the plate with six walks. Kang is arguably the best hitter in the league when he's on his game and still sits second with a 1.006 OPS even after his recent slump, so I'm very happy to grab him here at his rather affordable price. He'll get the platoon advantage against Landers righty Sam Gaviglio, who's struggled to a 7.05 ERA through his first 10 KBO starts.
Shin Soo Choo ($5,300) hasn't necessarily dominated at the KBO level like you might expect someone with 1,671 career MLB hits would, but that's not to say he's been anything close to bad. He's hit a very respectable .257/.394/.435 with 18 homers and an impressive 20 steals, showing surprising speed for a 39-year-old. The veteran has been particularly hot over his last 14 games, slashing .368/.463/.544 with three homers and 14 runs scored. He'll get the platoon advantage Saturday against Wiz righty William Cuevas, who's suddenly gone cold, struggling to a 7.71 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over his last three starts.
Kyoung Min Heo ($4,000) jumped up to the leadoff spot when the Bears faced a lefty Thursday and should bat there again Saturday against Chae Heung Choi, who owns a 4.83 ERA and 1.52 WHIP on the year. The Bears should be able to get something going against the southpaw in the league's most hitter-friendly park, and Heo should be right in the middle of it. Heo has struggled at times this season, and his .723 OPS is over 100 points worse than the .824 mark he finished with last year, but he's been figuring things out over his last 12 games, hitting .316/.396/.395 over that stretch. He won't provide much power, as he's homered just five times this season, but he's among the league's best contact hitters, striking out in just 6.9 percent of his plate appearances.
Geon Chang Seo ($3,600) isn't nearly the player he was back in 2014, when he hit .370 and earned MVP honors, but he should still have plenty left in the tank at age 32. Throughout most of the season, he's failed to impress, but he's turned things on at the plate recently, hitting .371/.405/.486 over his last nine games. He remains locked into the third spot in the Twins' order, keeping him useful as a budget option even when he's slumping. The Twins should be able to get something going Saturday against Heroes righty Chan Heon Jeong, whom Seo was traded for back in July, as he's given up 10 runs on 22 hits in eight innings of work over his last two starts, and Seo should be a key part of the team's rallies.
Stacks to Consider
It takes a lot for me to be interested in a Tigers stack this season, as the team ranks last in scoring. Nam stands out enough that I'm willing to give it a go, however. He presumably has potential, as he was a first-round pick in the 2020 draft, but he's making just his second career start at the KBO level. He didn't allow a run in his debut last week against the Wiz but he threw just 48 pitches, so he's unlikely to be asked to go very deep this time around. Facing the Eagles' long relievers for much of the game should benefit the Tigers' bats, but facing Nam should help them too. His 3.40 ERA in 47.2 career Futures League innings is a solid mark, but it comes with a low 12.2 percent strikeout rate. A pitcher who can't reliably miss bats at that level is likely to give up tons of contact in KBO games, even against the league's worst lineup. We'll go here with a trio of players who occupied the first three spots in the order in the Tigers' most recent game.
The Dinos' lineup is a lot closer to the Tigers' than you might expect, as they've tumbled down to sixth in scoring after losing four regulars to season-long suspensions for health-protocol violations over the break. The team still has some very talented bats, however, and those stars should shine against a pitcher like Seo. The 20-year-old has shown very little across six starts and 18 relief appearances this season, struggling to a 7.46 ERA and 2.01 WHIP. His 13.7 percent strikeout rate checks in not much higher than his 11.9 percent walk rate. He's coming off a terrible pair of starts in which he allowed 13 runs on 19 hits in 6.1 innings of work, and things aren't likely to get much better Saturday. We'll go with the Dinos' three most expensive active hitters here, as they've dropped into a range where it's not tough to roster all three of them.