This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
This week's KBO action has seen four of the five series split through two games, with the last-place Giants' two victories over the Heroes representing the only exception. Wednesday's action featured few standout performances, though Wes Parsons' 10 strikeouts in his quality start against the Bears certainly helped fantasy teams even though a back-and-forth final few innings meant he didn't pick up the win in the Dinos' 9-5 victory. Elsewhere, Enderson Franco had a rare strong outing, striking out seven while allowing two runs on two hits to help the Giants to a 4-2 win over the Heroes. Meanwhile, Jose Pirela and Jae Il Oh each had three hits in the Lions' 8-7 win over the Landers, with the latter adding a homer and four RBI.
Thursday's slate features quite a number of strong pitchers, though rain threatens games across the country. Only the game between the Giants and Heroes, which takes place indoors at Gocheok Sky Dome, looks guaranteed to go forward as of writing, though the other contests look to have at least a chance to be played. Be sure to double-check the weather before finalizing your lineups.
Dan Straily ($8,100) will be pitching in that indoor game and is therefore one of the day's safest options. He has a potentially difficult matchup against a lefty-heavy Heroes lineup, though that unit has scored just 2.6 runs over the team's last seven games. The veteran righty is good enough to be an excellent option at his modest price even without that recent downturn, however. While he hasn't matched his 2.50 ERA and 1.02 WHIP from last season, there's nothing wrong with his 2.95 ERA and 1.29 WHIP this year. His strikeout rate had been slightly down early in the year, but he's since averaged 7.8 whiffs over his last four starts, raising his strikeout rate to 26.0 percent, a near match from his 26.4 percent mark from last year.
Perhaps the best reason not to select Straily is that you'd rather use Eric Jokisch ($7,900) instead in that same game. The lefty will face a righty-heavy Giants lineup, but that unit has fallen to seventh in scoring, so Jokisch remains very appealing at his inexpensive price. Jokisch didn't have the strikeout upside of most of last year's best pitchers, posting an 18.0 percent strikeout rate, but he still cruised to a league-leading 2.14 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He's taken a step back across the board this year, with his strikeout rate dropping to 16.9 percent, but his 3.00 ERA and 1.32 WHIP are still more than adequate. He's been particularly strong over his last three outings, allowing a combined three earned runs.
Ryan Carpenter ($8,600) wasn't good in his last outing, giving up seven runs in 5.2 innings against the Landers, but I'm willing to look his way anyway given his matchup against the last-ranked Tigers lineup, a group which is loaded with lefties at the top of the order. Even that poor start wasn't all bad, as he matched his season high with nine strikeouts. The southpaw has shown considerable strikeout upside all year, posting a 25.8 percent strikeout rate while whiffing at least six batters in seven of his 10 starts, helping him to a 2.59 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
21-year-old Baek Ho Kang ($5,700) is making his case for MVP this season. Despite hitting a modest seven homers, his 1.111 OPS is tied for the lead among qualified hitters. He's gotten there by making excellent contact, striking out a career-low 12.3 percent of the time en route to a .419/.502/.609 slash line. A .456 BABIP will undoubtedly drop going forward, but more power should be coming to make up for that. He has plenty of homer potential, as seen in his 29 homers in his Rookie of the Year campaign back in 2018, and he's added five in his last 19 games, a stretch in which he's posted a 1.257 OPS. He'll get the platoon advantage Thursday against Casey Kelly, who's been inconsistent lately, posting a 4.80 ERA over his last five starts.
If the Eagles had more reliable hitters, they could have been a stack recommendation here against Tigers righty Gi Yeong Im, whose ERA still sits at 5.48 even after some stronger recent starts. Leadoff man Eun Won Jung ($4,300) remains the best option on the ninth-place team. He has just one homer this season and managed just three last year, but he fills his role very well despite that lack of pop. His league-leading 20.3 percent walk rate has helped him to a .437 on-base percentage, the fifth-best mark among qualified hitters. He's also stolen 10 bases, tying him for fifth in the league.
Ji Hoon Choi ($3,700) has tied Jung with 10 steals, but that's far from the only way he's provided value recently. He was hitting just .177/.358/.226 through his first 26 games, but he's been on a tear over his last 13, posting a .352/.438/.574 slash line and scoring 18 runs. The second-year outfielder has demonstrated excellent control of the zone this season, walking 25 times to go with just 18 strikeouts, an exciting development after he struck out more than twice as often as he walked last year. That's made him an ideal fit for the leadoff role he's occupied for most of the last several weeks, which could help him score multiple runs if the Landers manage something against David Buchanan, who's been strong this season but gave up five runs in just three innings in his most recent start.
Going back to Baek Ho Kang's Wiz, Zoilo Almonte ($3,400) is finally showing signs of life after a largely disappointing start to his KBO career. While he's no match for former Wiz outfielder Mel Rojas Jr., who left for Japan after winning the MVP trophy last year, his four multi-hit games in his last six appearances have dragged his season line up to a respectable .285/.343/.419. Those recent performances are extra encouraging given that he slumped to a .413 OPS over his previous 16 contests. His numbers still fall short of what teams expect from their lone foreign hitter, but he's done enough to justify his low price, especially given the benefit of the doubt that foreign hitters deserve until they prove they can't handle the KBO. His 47 mediocre but respectable games certainly don't constitute such proof.
Stacks to Consider
Song looked quite reliable in a swingman role last season, finishing the year with a 3.70 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He was looking similarly good through his first four starts this season, cruising to a 3.50 ERA, before an oblique issue shut him down for nearly a month. His two starts since his return to action have been disasters. In a combined nine innings, he's allowed 16 runs on 23 hits. There was certainly some BABIP luck involved, and his .461 BABIP on the season should fall in the future, taking a bite out of his 7.67 ERA with it, but there's such a large gap between who he was pre- and post-injury that it's difficult to have much faith in him at the moment.
A righty on the mound for the opposition means that Jae Hwan Kim and Fernandez are virtual locks for this stack. Kim sits tied for fourth in the league with 11 homers and third with 42 RBI, with his .911 OPS standing as his best mark since his MVP campaign back in 2018. Fernandez is as elite of a contact hitter as ever, with his 6.3 percent strikeout rate matching his mark from 2020. That's helped him hit .344, a number which nearly matches his career .342 batting average. Exactly how to round out the stack is less clear, but I've gone with In Tae Kim to save cash. While he doesn't have much of a track record, he'll get the platoon advantage against Song and has settled into the number two spot with Kun Woo Park out with an abdominal injury. That alone makes him interesting at his cheap price, though his .297/.418/.449 slash line certainly doesn't hurt.
Won Seok Oh may be trending in the right direction recently, but he still stands out as one of the most targetable pitchers on a slate full of strong starters. Whether or not he's really been pitching better lately isn't even clear. He's allowed just two earned runs in 14.1 innings across his last three appearances, but his 10:10 K:BB over that stretch doesn't exactly indicate a dramatic improvement. Even after those comparatively strong outings, he still owns a 4.93 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP on the year, striking out a good number of batters (20.7 percent) but walking far too many (13.8 percent).
The Lions aren't playing at their hitter-friendly home park and have been missing key pieces lately, but there's still enough here to make a compelling stack. Pirela is the obvious centerpiece. While he's hit 10 of his 13 homers (a number which ties him for the league lead) at home, he's no slouch on the road, posting a .355/.425/.505 line. Jae Il Oh won't get the platoon advantage Thursday, but he's a perfectly competent hitter against lefties, posting an .852 OPS against them this year and an .845 mark for his career. He's a solid mid-priced option at first base even against a southpaw, especially considering he has five homers and a 1.400 OPS over his last seven games. Kim was demoted following an awful start that saw him post a .330 OPS in his first 11 games, but he turned things around in the Futures League and has since moved into the cleanup spot due to the Lions' injury issues, going 3-for-8 in his last two games. His .312/.359/.508 line last year gives a sense of the upside that comes with his modest price tag.