This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Thursday's KBO action featured a number of strong pitching performances, though Casey Kelly's was arguably the best, as he struck out 10 Eagles in six innings while allowing just one run as the Twins won 8-1. Won Joon Choi also has an argument for the best outing of the night, as he allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings against the Dinos while striking out seven, with Jae Hwan Kim going 2-for-4 with a three-run homer in the Bears' 6-2 victory. Yoo Seom Han had one of the best days on the offensive side, with a grand slam accounting for one of his three hits and four of his five RBI in the Landers' 9-2 win over the Giants. Plenty of offense was also available in the game between the Wiz and the Lions, where Jae Il Oh walked things off with a three-run homer to secure an 8-7 victory for the hosts, one of five total homers in the game.
Friday's slate features four former MLB pitchers on what should be a full, five-game slate, as rain doesn't look like a factor as of writing.
It rarely takes much to make Eric Jokisch ($9,300) one of the best options on a given slate, so he'd be very interesting here even if he weren't facing the last-ranked Tigers lineup. The lefty stumbled a bit out of the gate, as his 3.73 ERA and 1.41 WHIP over his first seven starts were no match for the 2.14 ERA and 1.06 WHIP he recorded last season. He found his groove in mid-May, however, and he's been remarkably consistent since then. In his last 15 starts, he's allowed more than four runs just once and has allowed more than six hits just a single time, leading to an unsurprisingly excellent 1.98 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over that stretch. He lacks the strikeout upside of most of the league's best arms, striking out a roughly average 18.6 percent of opposing batters, but he more than makes up for that with his very high floor.
If you're fine with a bit more volatility, you won't find a pitcher with a higher ceiling on this slate than Wilmer Font ($8,400). That ceiling comes from his 27.6 percent strikeout rate, the second-best mark among qualified pitchers. He was shaky to start the second half, allowing 11 runs in 15 innings across his first three starts since the break, though even that run came with a strong 15:4 K:BB. He's sorted things out over his last two outings, allowing just a single earned run on four combined hits in 14 innings of work, striking out 14 while walking four. The sixth-ranked Giants lineup shouldn't present too much of a challenge, especially as most of the team's best hitters bat right-handed.
20-year-old righty Min Ho Lee ($6,100) isn't entirely reliable at this point in his career, but he's priced far too cheaply here given his matchup in pitcher-friendly Jamsil Baseball Stadium against an Eagles lineup which ranks second-last in scoring. He's been wildly inconsistent this season, allowing zero earned runs in five of his 14 starts while allowing at least four runs six times. His three starts since the break have exemplified that inconsistency, as he gave up six runs in just 3.1 innings in the first of that trio while allowing a single run on nine hits in 13 innings of work over the last two. On the season overall, his combination of an 18.5 percent strikeout rate and 8.9 percent walk rate is perfectly respectable, so while he's been an enigma, it won't cost much to bet on him remaining hot here.
Jae Gyun Hwang ($4,900) may be outshined by his teammate Baek Ho Kang, who's having a phenomenal season, but Hwang is having a strong campaign himself. He'll also come $900 cheaper than Kang, plays a much shallower position (third base) and will be the one to get the platoon advantage against Lions lefty Mike Montgomery, who's struggled to a 5.65 ERA through his first six KBO starts. Hwang's .872 OPS overall this season is a very good mark, but he's been far better than that over his last 13 games, going hitless just once while slashing .444/.483/.630 with five steals. He should stay hot in the league's most hitter-friendly park Friday.
Few hitters are hotter than Suk Hwan Yang ($4,700) at the moment. Over his last 10 games, he's homered four times and driven in 16 runs while slashing .444/.463/.889. The former LG Twin didn't have any particularly notable seasons before moving to the rival Bears this season, topping out at 22 homers and a .758 OPS. His two-homer night Sunday against the Lions gave him 23 on the year, setting a new career high and tying him for fourth in the league. He also now owns an .877 OPS, so it would take quite a collapse down the stretch for him to avoid setting a career high in that category as well. He should get the chance to keep raising that OPS on Friday, as he'll face Dinos righty Myung Gi Song, who owns a 5.73 ERA and 1.65 WHIP on the season.
I've been much less interested in Justin Bour ($3,100) lately, as he's still struggling to find his groove at the plate. A .200 BABIP is certainly suppressing his numbers, but he's also striking out 28.4 percent of the time, so his awful .162/.272/.265 slash line is at least somewhat deserved. Still, that comes in just 21 games, a sample we should weigh far less than his 559 games at the MLB level, a stretch in which he hit .253/.337/.457. Additionally, he's trimmed his strikeout rate to a perfectly respectable 18.8 percent over his last nine games and just hit his second KBO homer Thursday, so there are signs he's starting to wake up at the plate. He'll get the platoon advantage Friday against Eagles righty Min Woo Kim, who owns a 4.74 ERA and 1.68 WHIP since the Olympic break.
I considered writing up Walker Lockett in the Pitchers section above, as he's priced at a surprisingly affordable $7,400, but he owns a 5.93 ERA over his last five starts even after tossing a quality start his last time out against the Landers. That makes Jeong Won Choi ($3,100) an interesting budget outfielder. Choi has a very brief KBO track record, as the 21-year-old only has 157 career plate appearances at this level, but he stepped into not just the starting lineup but an everyday role in one of the top two spots in the Dinos' order after the team lost four regulars to health-protocol suspension at the break. He's filled that role well, hitting .319/.390/.377 with five steals in 19 games since becoming a regular. That makes him worth a look even without the fact that his lineup spot is one of the best in the league, as he gets to hit directly in front of Eui Ji Yang, Sung Bum Na and Aaron Altherr.
Stacks to Consider
Im has had an up-and-down season, but it's mostly been down from him of late. As recently as Aug. 10, he owned a 4.06 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, but those numbers have risen to 5.17 and 1.35, respectively, after a few disastrous outings. Over his last four starts, he's allowed 20 runs on 23 hits in 16.2 innings, striking out 14 while walking 10. His overall underlying numbers, including his 18.7 percent strikeout rate and 7.3 percent walk rate, are far from terrible, but he had even better strikeout and walk rates last season and still ended up with a 5.15 ERA. The stack listed here features a trio of lefties who should hit atop the Heroes' order, including Jung Hoo Lee, who was just activated off the injured list after missing the past few weeks with a side injury.
I actually like quite a bit about Um's profile despite his 6.07 career ERA. He owns a 1.60 ERA in the Futures League over the past two seasons, striking out 26.4 percent of opposing batters while walking just 4.6 percent. He's held his own through four KBO League starts to start the second half, posting a 4.05 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, with his 21.6 percent strikeout rate generally proving to be enough to offset a 12.5 percent walk rate. On another day, he could even be a budget starter worth considering, but he finds himself near the bottom of a rather deep group Friday in large part due to the fact that he'll be pitching in Daegu Samsung Lions Park, the most hitter-friendly venue in the league. He's also coming off his worst start of the year, as he allowed three runs while failing to pitch more than four innings his last time out against the lowly Eagles. The stack given here is an unusual one, featuring the team's usual second, third and ninth hitters, as you may have to get creative to fit in the expensive but accurately-priced Pirela and Ko. Kim has been awful for most of the year but had a .798 OPS last year and has turned things around over his last 19 games, hitting .344 with just five strikeouts.