It’s baseball season! No, MLB isn’t starting yet, but we have action from Korea. The KBO season is underway and we have DFS action. In addition to classic contests on DraftKings, we also have a Showdown contest. The scoring works the same as our normal MLB contests, but the players are different. The game features the Bears taking on the Tigers and will air on ESPN at 5:30 a.m. ET Friday morning.
Set your lineups here: KBO Showdown $400 Solo Shot (DOO vs KIA)
Note: All salaries will be Flex prices unless noted as Captain’s Pick prices.
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What to know about the KBO
Doosan BearsI’m not sure we’re in store for a pitching exhibition this evening. Honestly, with rain in the forecast, we might not be in store for anything on Friday, but if this game can be played, it should prove to be high-scoring. One of the main reasons for this will be Hui Kwan Yu ($10,400), who may just be the least enticing DFS pitcher of all-time. Even when Yu was good last season – managing a 3.25 ERA across 166.1 innings – he simply didn’t profile as a fantasy asset. In fact, the 33-year-old left-hander posted a microscopic 9.3% strikeout rate in 2019, easily the lowest mark among the 40 pitchers to throw 100-plus frames. Then there’s the matter of the juiced baseballs.
Is it coincidence that the best campaign of Yu’s lengthy career happened to come in a season where the KBO had altered their baseballs to limit home runs? I think it’s pretty easy to see the correlation between the two events, especially considering the LHP’s biggest weakness in prior years had been the long ball. To wit, from 2015 to 2018, only three pitchers in Korea surrendered more home runs than Yu (88), a span of time where the veteran possessed an ugly 5.03 FIP. Yu’s arguably the most contact-oriented starter in the league and with growing speculation that the baseballs have returned to their pre-2019 glory, he’d be one of the most effected arms. Heck, he conceded 10 hits and five earned runs against the Wiz in his first outing of 2020. I think that’s more a sign of things to come than an aberration.
Ok, I’m now 100% convinced that old juiced balls are back. Oppo HRs at Jamshil stadium are rare. Already 2 in 6 games. Good hitting by Ramos, but this would have been an out last year. #KBO https://t.co/d9TKsKxNIE— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) May 12, 2020
As for Doosan’s bats, one of the strongest lineups in the KBO won’t have to worry too much about their opposition. Not only has Ki Young Im ($9,600) struggled immensely in recent years, but the 27-year-old is also right-handed, meaning many of the Bears’ best hitters will have their preferred platoon split this evening. Namely, Jose Fernandez ($10,600), Jae Hwan Kim ($9,400) and Jae Il Oh ($8,800), who happen to rank first, second and third, respectively, in the league in wRC+ and wOBA. If that wasn’t enough, Oh has an insane 1.000 slugging percentage specifically against righties in 2020, the product of seven extra base hits in 22 at-bats within the split. Additionally, when looking for a place to save salary with Doosan’s roster, Joo Hwan Choi ($4,600) and Jae Ho Kim ($4,800) are the obvious choices. Both currently sport an OPS above .880 and the pair tend to find themselves hitting in the middle of the Bears’ order.
Kia TigersWhen it comes to the aforementioned Im, there’s a lot working against the RHP in this start. First and foremost, Im simply hasn’t been very good going back to the beginning of 2018. While his strikeout numbers are far more in line with the league average mark than Yu’s, that’s about the only area Im has stacked up well against the rest of the KBO. Among the 99 pitchers to have thrown at least 100 innings within the past two-plus seasons, Im owns the third-highest FIP (5.80), fifth-highest WHIP (1.72) and seventh-highest ERA (6.15) in the group. These trends were on full display in the righty’s first outing of 2020, as Im allowed Samsung – a team that currently owns the league’s worst batting average (.219) – to register four earned runs across a dismal 4.1 innings. The Bears aren’t the Lions. They’ll likely punish Im to an even greater extent.
Finally, we get to KIA’s positional pieces. For as much as I think Yu isn’t extremely viable on this Showdown slate, don’t assume that’s an endorsement of the Tigers’ hitters. KIA has floundered at the dish to begin 2020, scoring a putrid 3.7 runs per contest through their first nine games. Losing Chi Hong An in the offseason to the Giants was always going to hurt this attack; however, the struggles of Hyung Woo Choi ($10,000) and Min Sang Yoo ($7,200) have not helped matters, either. Still, that doesn’t mean no one on the Tigers’ roster is tantalizing from a DFS perspective. Preston Tucker ($9,800) currently has the fifth-highest wRC+ in the KBO (221) and, surprisingly, all three of his home runs this year have come in left-on-left situations. On top of that, Sun Bin Kim ($7,600) has reached base in every single one of KIA’s matchups and Ji Wan Na ($6,200) has a .231 ISO to go along with some encouraging power numbers from the “juiced ball” era.
THE OUTCOMEI truly don’t believe either one of these starters is going to work deep into this contest. With the offensive issues the Tigers have had to begin 2020, there’s a chance Hui Kwan Yu can survive five frames, yet his completely underwhelming strikeout totals won’t lift him to viability even in such an optimistic scenario. Instead, you should be filling out your lineup with as many high-priced Doosan bats as possible. Jae Hwan Kim ($14,100 CP) and Jae Il Oh ($13,200 CP) will surely be popular Captain’s picks, but their ownership will be justified. However, taking a chance on a value bat like Joo Hwan Choi ($6,900 CP) might be the best way to make all the high-end salaries fit.
Final Score: Bears 9, Tigers 4
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theglt13) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.