This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Wednesday's KBO slate featured virtually every type of game imaginable. There was a pitchers' duel, with Ariel Miranda and Tae In Won combining to allow just one run in their 10 innings in a game Miranda's Bears won 1-0. There was an extra-innings thriller, with Sun Bin Kim capping a three-hit day with a game-winning single in the top of the 12th as the Tigers beat the Heroes 8-7. There was a blowout, with the Eagles offense knocking KBO debutant Wilmer Font out after just two innings and going on to score 17 runs without hitting a single homer, while their typically shaky pitching staff held a revamped Landers' lineup scoreless. Elsewhere, the top four batters in the Wiz lineup all had multi-hit days while Young Pyo Ko allowed just one run in his first start back from two years of military service to beat the Twins by a 7-3 score, while the Dinos got their first win of the season, beating the Giants 10-6 thanks in large part to Sung Bum Na's six-RBI day.
Thursday's slate, which again appears to be rain-free, figures to be fairly high-scoring, with back-end starters taking the hill for most teams.
On a day that's very thin on reliable pitching, Seung Won Moon ($8,100) stands out as a tier above the rest of the field. Moon was a rare bright spot for the Landers (then known as the Wyverns) last season, backing up his 3.65 ERA and 1.24 WHIP with a strong combination of a 19.2 percent strikeout rate and 7.4 percent walk rate. That level of performance was nothing new for the veteran, who posted a 3.88 ERA and 1.13 WHIP the year prior. There's room for concern here as he underwent surgery to remove bone fragments from his elbow in October, but he's ready to go now and gets to face an Eagles lineup which should still be considered an easy matchup despite their surprising offensive explosion Wednesday.
Young Ha Lee ($8,800) is more expensive than he perhaps ought to be, but he's nevertheless one of the more interesting options in a generally unappealing set of starters. Lee cruised to a 3.64 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 2019, but he struggled significantly for much of last year. After struggling to a 5.52 ERA in 19 starts, he was converted to a relief role in late August. He thrived in the bullpen, posting a 1.04 ERA the rest of the way while saving six games. He's needed as a starter again this season, and whether or not he can recapture his late-season form is one of the key questions the Bears face this season. It's hard to say with confidence that he will, but a matchup against a weak Lions lineup in the league's most pitcher-friendly park makes this a gamble worth taking considering the alternatives.
Speaking of gambles, Seung Heon Lee ($8,200) certainly fits the bill, as would almost anyone who faces a Dinos lineup that led the league in scoring last year. His inclusion here is primarily a reflection of a weak pool of options, with the slate featuring one 18-year-old rookie making his KBO debut and four starters who posted an ERA of 6.75 or worse in limited action last season. Against that backdrop, Lee's 4.66 ERA in eight starts last season looks quite strong. His underlying numbers tell a considerably more optimistic story, as he finished with a 1.23 WHIP, a 21.7 percent strikeout rate and a 7.0 percent walk rate. Just 23 years old, there's the makings of a potential breakout here, though it would be nice if he wasn't priced as if that breakout had already happened.
The Bears easily could have been listed as a potential stack in this column, as they'll face 20-year-old Lions lefty Seung Min Lee, who posted a 6.84 ERA, 2.01 WHIP and 16:19 K:BB last season. Kun Woo Park ($5,000) is very much worth a look, with or without his teammates. He typically hasn't been much of a power hitter, averaging 12 homers over the last three seasons, but he already has two homers in his first three games this year. Even if he doesn't maintain that sort of power, he should continue making excellent contact, as he's a lifetime .326 hitter who's crossed the .300 mark in six straight seasons.
Sticking with the Bears, Kyoung Min Heo ($4,700) joins his teammate as one of the best values among the day's most expensive bats. Contact is very much the calling card for the 30-year-old third baseman. He led all qualified hitters with a 5.7 percent strikeout rate last season. The Bears made it a priority to bring him back this offseason despite losing other key pieces in free agency, signing him to a four-year deal. He's looked as good as ever to start the season, grabbing six hits in 12 at-bats. His spot atop a strong Bears lineup should give him multiple chances to score runs Thursday.
Zoilo Almonte ($2,500) is one of a handful of far too cheap foreign hitters, as DraftKings' pricing algorithm appears to be ignoring non-KBO stats. While Almonte has an unimpressive resume at the MLB level, hitting .211/.242/.282 in 47 games in 2013 and 2014, he's carved out a nice career overseas. In three seasons for the NPB's Chunichi Dragons, he hit .316/.375/.484. His numbers could be even stronger given the step down in competition from Japan to Korea. He gets what should be a very easy matchup Wednesday against Twins lefty Sang Yung Lee, who's allowed five runs in 2.2 career KBO innings.
The leadoff man for any lineup deserves a look in most matchups, even in a mediocre lineup like Lotte's. Chi Hong An ($3,300) has filled that role this season and should be an interesting option Thursday, as he'll get the platoon advantage against Dinos lefty Young Kyu Kim, who posted a 5.45 ERA last year. An doesn't have a ton of power, homering just eight times last year, but he hit a solid .286/.351/.413 and added 14 steals. He's capable of even better contact, as he hit .315 or better for three straight seasons from 2017 to 2019.
Stacks to Consider
Close to half of the pitchers on Thursday's slate make for interesting stack targets, but both sides of this Tigers-Heroes matchup look the most compelling to me. Lee has plenty of potential, as he was selected by the Tigers in last year's regional draft, a round in which teams are allowed to select a player from their local area prior to the start of the normal draft. The fact that he's in the Opening Day rotation indicates that they think quite highly of him, but he's still an 18-year-old with zero KBO experience. Additionally, even if he is quite good right away, the Tigers are unlikely to push him too hard in his first start of the season. That should leave a lot of innings for the Tigers' bullpen, which has already handled 14 innings in the last two games thanks to a pair of extra-inning contests.
I'd ordinarily stay away from recommended left-handed hitters against left-handed pitchers, but I'm comfortable going with Jung Hoo Lee here, in part because I'm not sure Eui Lee Lee will go all that deep in this game. Jung Hoo Lee actually had reverse splits last year, posting a .960 OPS against lefties and a .911 OPS against righties, though he does have a slight split in the typical direction over the course of his career. Still, he clearly doesn't have a significant weakness against southpaws, so the career .366 hitter is as likely as ever to get multiple hits in this one.
We'll skip the Heroes' other best lefties to round out this stack with a pair of right-handed bats. Park, whose brief stay at the MLB level saw him hit 12 homers for the Twins in 62 games in 2016 but fail to make enough contact to stick around, is one of the best power hitters in Korea. He has a pair of 50-homer seasons on his resume during the league's juiced-ball era and has averaged 32.3 homers per year in his three years since returning to his home country. He hit just 21 last year, but injuries limited him to 93 games. He has significant strikeout issues, whiffing 29.8 percent of his plate appearances last season, but he does as much damage as anyone when he connects.
Freitas remains at both the wrong price and the wrong position. Like all the new foreign hitters this season, he's been priced near the minimum due to his lack of KBO numbers. Similarly, like all members of that group, he should be considered one of the better hitters in the league until proving otherwise, given that the Heroes are dedicating their lone foreign hitter spot to him. Four games is hardly a noteworthy sample, but he's had a respectable start, going 5-for-18 with four RBI. He'll be an even more compelling option once he's correctly labeled as a catcher, but he makes for a strong budget option even at second and third base.
The other side of this matchup is equally interesting. Unlike Eui Lee Lee, Kim has some KBO experience, but he doesn't have anything close to a convincing track record. He's thrown 25 innings over the last six seasons, posting a 7.92 ERA and a 2.20 WHIP. He didn't throw a single inning in 2019 and threw just one last year, giving up six runs. He's unlikely to be able to last long in this game even if the Heroes want him to, so the Tigers may not be able to take advantage of him for too long, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Two extra-inning games in the last two days means the Heroes' bullpen has been very taxed, throwing a total of 14 innings in those two contests.
Tucker emerged as one of the best hitters in the entire league last season. After hitting a modest nine homers in his 95-game KBO debut in 2019, he exploded for 32 last year, tying him for sixth in the league. He also tied for fifth with 113 RBI and finished seventh with 100 runs. He hasn't done much to start this season, grabbing just two hits in three games, but getting the platoon advantage against a very shaky righty in this one should help kick-start his campaign.
Choi joins Tucker in the heart of the Tigers' order for what might be the most intimidating pair of left-handed bats in the league. The 37-year-old has dominated KBO pitchers over a long career which started back in 2002, hitting .320/.407/.552 for his career. Even in his late 30s, he has plenty to offer, averaging 24 homers per season in his four years as a Tiger. Last year represented one of the best seasons of his career, as he led the league with a .354 batting average and finished second in OPS with a 1.023 mark.
Leadoff man Choi is preferred here over number two hitter Sun Bin Kim due to the fact that he'll get the platoon advantage, but either player is a worthy choice to round out this stack. As with many KBO leadoff hitters, Choi offers next to nothing in the power department, never hitting more than four homers in a season. He hit just two last season but still produced a very strong line, hitting .326/.387/.421. Regularly batting in front of Tucker and Choi should give him plenty of chances to score runs this year.