This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
The KBO season is coming down to the wire, with teams having between six and 10 games left to play. Friday's slate features arguably the most important game of the season thus far, as the second-place Lions will host the league-leading Wiz, with a share of first place available if the home side can secure a victory. Elsewhere, the fifth-place Landers host the fourth-place Bears, with the loser at risk of falling out of the playoff places. As it's another small slate (four games), I'm going to experiment again with a format I introduced ahead of Wednesday's slate, going game-by-game to offer breakdowns of each pitcher and the hitters (if any) who I'd look to select against them, as well as a pick on the moneyline and the over-under.
Wiz at Lions
Young Pyo Ko, Wiz ($9,300): Ko has been one of the revelations of the season and is a key part of the Wiz's push for the number one seed. He'd been out of the league for two years due to Korea's mandatory military service requirement and had never recorded an ERA below 5.00 prior to this season, but he now sits fourth among qualified starters with a 2.87 ERA while leading the league with a 1.00 WHIP. Control is his standout skill, as he's walked just 4.0 percent of opposing batters, easily the best mark among qualified starters and more than enough to make up for a merely average 18.2 percent strikeout rate. He's the most expensive pitcher on the slate and is pitching in the league's most hitter-friendly park, but it's hard not to at least consider a pitcher who's riding a streak of eight consecutive quality starts.
Lions hitters: I'd mostly be inclined to stay away from the Lions' bats here, as Ko is the strongest pitcher on the slate, but hitter-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park at least gives some justification to look at this lineup. Most of the team's top bats have been slumping lately, but Hae Min Park ($3,900) owns a .828 OPS in 17 games since returning from a thumb injury and is quite affordable for a leadoff man.
Tae In Won, Lions ($7,700): Won was the story of the early part of the season, as he owned a 1.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP through his first seven starts, numbers which bore little resemblance to the 4.89 ERA and 1.56 WHIP he finished with last season. He's been good since then but far from dominant, posting a 3.98 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over his last 18 outings. He's continued fading as the season has gone on, as his 4.54 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over his last seven starts look a lot like the version of Won we saw last year. Given that recent performance and the fact that he'll have to face the fourth-ranked Wiz lineup at the league's most hitter-friendly park, it's hard to look his way here, though he's cheap enough to deserve some small amount of consideration.
Wiz hitters: Baek Ho Kang ($5,200) has hit a modest .265/.368/.429 in 52 games since August 18, the date his batting average dipped below .400 for good, but he's interesting here despite his high price tag given the hitter-friendly park. Too many of the Wiz's other top bats have been cold lately, but I like pairing Kang with cleanup man Han Joon Yoo ($2,600), who's far too affordable given his lineup position and his 1.089 OPS over his last seven games.
Picks: Wiz (-110) and Under 8.5 runs (-110). The first part of that is easier, as the two teams have the same odds despite the fact that the Wiz have a better lineup and a better pitcher. The total is a low one for this park, and Won hasn't been particularly good lately, but Ko should fulfill his side of the bargain well enough to hit the under.
Bears at Landers
Jong Ki Park, Bears ($5,900): Park is the cheapest pitcher on the slate, which makes him theoretically interesting, but he's cheap for a reason. He's spent the bulk of the season as a reliever, with his 6.38 ERA and 1.91 WHIP as a starter providing a clean explanation for why he hasn't received more starts. That's not to say he's been particularly good in relief, either, as his 4.28 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in that role aren't anything special. He simply allows far too much contact, striking out just 12.7 percent of opposing batters in 58.1 innings this season. It's tough to justify looking his way against the top-ranked Landers lineup here.
Landers hitters: Most of the Landers' top bats look like great plays here against Park. Stacking the three most expensive options—Shin Soo Choo ($5,400), Jeong Choi ($5,400) and Yoo Seom Han ($4,800)—looks like a smart move if you can find the space, as all three are hot right now. Tae Gon Oh ($3,500) has a 1.319 OPS over his last seven games and is an interesting budget option if he gets a good spot in the lineup, though he hit seventh in Thursday's game.
Sam Gaviglio, Landers ($6,400): Gaviglio's 5.93 ERA is nowhere near what a team wants from its foreign starters, but the rest of his statline isn't all that bad. His 21.8 percent strikeout rate and 8.1 percent walk rate should ordinarily lead to much better results, with that strikeout rate in particular giving him a fair amount of fantasy upside. He's also coming off a run of three straight quality starts, a stretch in which he owns a 2.84 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He doesn't have an easy matchup against the third-ranked Bears lineup, but he easily has the most upside of any of the day's inexpensive arms.
Bears hitters: While Gaviglio has been better lately and is a strong budget option, he's not good enough that you have to completely avoid the Bears' bats if you don't select him yourself. Most of the team's best hitters are either in a bit of a slump or will be at a platoon disadvantage, however, so you can safely skip this lineup without missing out on any particularly strong candidates.
Picks: Landers (-165) and Over 10 runs (-110). The Landers are correctly fairly big favorites here, as they have a better lineup and a much better pitcher, despite what the starters' respective ERAs suggest. It's possible a dominant outing from Gaviglio keeps this under 10 runs, but the Landers could get most of the way to 10 on their own even if that happens.
Eagles at Giants
Nick Kingham, Eagles ($8,700): Kingham has been one of very few bright spots for the Eagles this season as they head towards their second straight last-place finish. Through 23 starts this season, he owns a 3.20 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, good for ninth and third, respectively, among pitchers who have thrown at least 130 innings. Those numbers look well-deserved, as he's combined a 22.9 percent strikeout rate with a 6.7 percent walk rate, numbers which are good for sixth-best and fourth-best among that same group. He did allow four runs his last time out, something he's done three times in his last six outings, but those three minor slip-ups represent his only outings in his last 10 where he's allowed more than a single run. He's correctly priced as one of the more expensive options on the slate, even against the second-ranked Giants lineup.
Giants hitters: There are enough easy targets on this slate that there isn't much point loading up on Giants against one of the league's best pitchers. That said, the Giants do have a number of capable hitters priced under $4,000, most notably Ah Seop Son ($3,600), who will get the platoon advantage and has 11 hits across his last four games, making him a decent contrarian pick.
In Bok Lee, Giants ($7,400): Lee probably would need to be a bit cheaper to be a truly compelling option Friday, though anyone who isn't terrible and gets to face the ninth-ranked Eagles offense is at least a palatable option. Lee clears that low bar, though he's definitely unexciting. He's spent most of the year in relief and still owns a poor 4.91 ERA and 1.52 WHIP, though a .359 BABIP may have something to do with that, as his combination of a slightly below-average 17.2 percent strikeout rate and a strong 5.2 percent walk rate suggests he deserves a bit better. He's also coming off a three-start run in which he's allowed a total of four earned runs in 15 innings of work. He wouldn't be worth a second thought against most opponents, but he's a justifiable choice against the Eagles.
Eagles hitters: While the Eagles make Lee interesting, Lee also makes the Eagles interesting. Hernan Perez ($4,200) is hitless in his last three games, but that followed a nine-game stretch in which he produced a 1.118 OPS, making him a good mid-tier option at second or third base, while Tae Yean Kim ($3,900) is quite affordable for a player with an .871 OPS through 45 games this season and just hit cleanup in the Eagles' most recent game.
Picks: Eagles (-120) and Under 8.5 runs (-120). The gap between Kingham and Lee is enough to make up for the gap between the two lineups. A bet on the Eagles is a bet that Kingham will have a strong outing, so I'd recommend jumping to the over if you'd rather pick a Giants victory.
Tigers at Dinos
Gi Yeong Im, Tigers ($7,000): Im has been good enough at times this season that he's looked like one of the top options on a few slates and poor enough at times that he's been the pitcher I've been most excited to stack against. Altogether, that's added up to an unimpressive 4.95 ERA but a decent 1.33 WHIP. Both his 19.7 percent strikeout rate and 6.9 percent walk rate are easily better than league average, so there's reason to believe he should be better going forward, but he produced similar strikeout and walk numbers last season and still finished with a 5.15 ERA. Im has also gotten worse as the season has gone on, struggling to a 6.31 ERA in his last 11 starts, so perhaps optimism isn't warranted. The Dinos' seventh-ranked lineup doesn't present too tough a challenge, but it's hard to be excited about Im despite some solid peripherals.
Dinos hitters: A full stack of the Dinos' top bats is tempting here given Im's recent form, especially with Sung Bum Na ($4,400) dipping into surprisingly affordable territory. He'd been a bit cold for a few weeks but has five hits, including two doubles and a homer, in his last two games. Consider selecting him alone or pairing him with Eui Ji Yang ($5,200) and Aaron Altherr ($5,100).
Jae Hak Lee, Dinos ($8,200): Lee owns a poor 5.09 ERA and 1.45 WHIP through 15 starts, but there's a case to be made that he really does deserve to have the third-highest price tag among pitchers on this slate. His numbers are held back significantly by his horrible 12.75 ERA and 2.50 WHIP from his first three starts, as he owns a perfectly respectable 3.61 ERA and 1.25 WHIP since then. Zoom in on just his last five and you'll see a 2.49 ERA and 1.07 WHIP, while zooming in on just his last one outing reveals a complete-game one-hit shutout against the Bears. If that's what he's capable of against one of the league's best offenses, he shouldn't have much trouble against a unit that's easily the worst. That said, we're still talking about a pitcher with a 13.5 percent walk rate on the year, so there's always a chance things will unravel.
Tigers hitters: While nearly any pitcher facing the Tigers is at least somewhat appealing, Lee isn't intimidating enough even after his recent run that he should scare you away from the Tigers' bats, if you can find any decent ones. That's tough to do, though cleanup man Dae In Hwang's ($2,800) .974 OPS over his last seven games makes him a fairly interesting budget third baseman.
Picks: Dinos (-140) and Under 10 runs (-110). Lee's recent run is enough for me to stick with the favorites here, though both he and Im have the potential to be either excellent or awful, so an upset pick is defensible. There's enough here with both pitchers that these two bottom-four lineups probably won't get to double-digit runs.