This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Saturday's KBO action was full of elite pitching, with six teams scoring no more than one run. The Twins and Wiz combined to cross the plate zero times, with Young Pyo Ko tossing eight scoreless innings and Chan Kyu Im throwing seven, while Wes Parsons' eight-inning, one-run performance didn't prove to be enough as Tae In Won threw six of the Lions' nine scoreless frames in their 1-0 victory. Elsewhere, Bo Takahashi struck out six over four scoreless innings in his KBO debut, with the Tigers' bullpen getting the job done the rest of the way to defeat the Landers by a 7-1 score, while Ariel Miranda struck out 13 in six innings but allowed three runs in a game the Eagles would go on to win 5-1. Over half the scoring was found in the Giants' 12-6 victory over the Heroes, with Jun Woo Jeon's five hits beating out Jung Hoo Lee's four.
Sunday's slate starts bright and early at 1:00 a.m. ET and features a fairly standard spread of strong and weak starting pitchers.
Casey Kelly ($9,900) is the most expensive pitcher on the slate and faces the league's toughest lineup in the Wiz, but he's still a strong choice nonetheless. His last outing wasn't the most impressive, as he gave up six runs (four earned) on 10 hits against the lowly Eagles, but that was an aberration compared to the dominance he's shown throughout the second half. Over his previous seven starts, he cruised to a 1.97 ERA and 0.96 WHIP while striking out 48 batters in 45.2 innings. Kelly ranks second among pitchers who have thrown at least 300 innings since his KBO debut in 2019 in ERA (2.99) and third in WHIP (1.17), and that extended run of excellence makes me willing to forgive one bad start and keep him in the mix even against a difficult opponent.
Won Joon Choi ($9,000) has some clear advantages Sunday that make him arguably the top choice ahead of Kelly. Namely, he'll face the ninth-ranked Eagles offense and will do so at Jamsil Baseball Stadium, the most pitcher-friendly park in the league. Choi has been about as good as it gets for a pitcher with a below-average strikeout rate this season. He ranks ninth among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings with a 3.06 ERA, but every single pitcher ahead of him beats his 16.9 percent strikeout rate. That's not a terrible number by any means, however, and while he'd have more fantasy upside with more whiffs, he's gotten the job done all season and has been especially good lately, allowing just four runs on 13 hits in 19 innings of work across his last three outings.
Sunday's cheap pitching options are all very tough to place any faith in, but Sam Gaviglio ($8,300) represents a decent choice in the middle tier. That might come as a surprise given his 6.65 ERA, but he's only made nine starts thus far in Korea, so his four-start stretch to begin his KBO career in which he stumbled to a 10.31 ERA is still inflating that number to a large extent. Even with that poor stretch factored in, his underlying numbers are actually quite encouraging, as he owns a 21.4 percent strikeout rate and an 8.6 percent walk rate. David Buchanan, for example, owns strikeout and walk rates that are both within half a point of those marks and owns a 3.14 ERA on the year. I'd expect Gaviglio to pitch at far better than a 6.65 ERA level going forward, and a matchup against the last-ranked Tigers lineup Sunday should help point him in the right direction.
Jung Hoo Lee ($5,300) is one of the best hitters in Korea despite possessing very little power. Even the modest 15 homers he hit last season looks like an aberration, as he's hit just four this season and never managed more than six previously, yet he sits third among qualified hitters with a .965 OPS. He's been on fire since returning from a side injury in mid-September, hitting .455 over his last 15 games. His plate discipline is incredible, especially for a 23-year-old, as his 13.2 percent walk rate is nearly double his 6.8 percent strikeout rate. He may not have a second straight four-hit game Sunday, but he should still be an excellent option against Giants righty Enderson Franco, who owns a 5.09 ERA.
I could have recommended a Twins stack on this slate with the Wiz looking lined up for a bullpen game, as scheduled starter Jae Min Shim tossed an inning of relief Friday and hasn't started since before the break. Too many of the Twins' top bats are struggling at the moment for them to look like one of the best stacks, though that doesn't include Chang Ki Hong ($4,700). The leadoff man would be even more interesting if the players behind him were more reliably knocking him in, but he's still tied for fourth in runs with 79 despite the fact that the Twins rank eighth in scoring. He's at least holding up his end of the bargain lately even as his teammates struggle, hitting .407/.492/.463 over his last 14 games while going hitless just once.
Hitters who make contact and can run but possess minimal power are finding themselves hitting out of the leadoff spot less often at the MLB level, as teams seek to maximize the at-bats of their best all-around hitters, but those guys still wind up leading off quite often in Korea. That creates some great value options for daily fantasy, as you don't have to pay much to get someone who should benefit greatly from hitting directly in front of a team's best bats. Soo Bin Jung ($2,800) is the textbook example of that archetype at the moment, as he's led off in nine of the last 10 games for a surging Bears lineup that now sits second in scoring. He's an unexciting bat overall, homering just once all year while posting a .652 OPS, but he's thrived in the leadoff role, hitting .372/.391/.488 while stealing four bases and scoring 10 runs over that 10-game stretch. He should provide plenty of value Sunday, as he'll get the platoon advantage against Eagles righty Min Woo Kim, who's stumbled to a 4.89 ERA and 1.69 WHIP since the Olympic break.
Speaking of underpriced leadoff hitters, the Dinos have been rotating unproven options through that spot and their number two hole throughout the second half after losing four regulars to health-protocol suspensions over the break. Min Su Jeon ($2,000) has hit in the top two spots twice in the last three games, so he's the one who gets the recommendation here, but it should transfer to whatever inexpensive options the Dinos elect to bat in front of Sung Bum Na and Eui Ji Yang, arguably the best pair of teammates in the league on the offensive side. It doesn't take much to be worth consideration for a player this cheap, and Jeon has shown at least something in limited action this season, hitting .284/.346/.405 in 81 trips to the plate. He (or whoever else occupies a prime spot in the order) should be in for a big day at the most hitter-friendly park in the league Sunday against Lions lefty Chae Heung Choi, who owns a 5.24 ERA and 1.59 WHIP on the year.
Stacks to Consider
The fact that Kim is holding down a rotation spot at age 19 is impressive, but he's not someone who comes with all that much pedigree, as he was merely a third-round pick in the 2020 draft. It's not hard to see why he wasn't a high pick, as his fastball has averaged just 80.8 mph this season. That lack of velocity has led in turn to a lack of whiffs, as his 8.0 percent strikeout rate is the lowest in the league among pitchers who have thrown at least 70 innings. His 4.63 ERA through seven starts and 26 relief appearances is far from terrible, but it's hard to believe he can continue allowing a respectable number of runs if he simply can't miss bats. Notably, he had much more success in the bullpen, posting a 3.22 ERA there compared to a 6.15 mark as a starter.
Expect plenty of hits and plenty of runs from the Giants, who feature a large number of good but not great hitters. Which of those to select in a given game is usually a tough decision, though you'll almost certainly want Jeon, who has a remarkable 20 hits in his last six games. I've paired him here with the players who have regularly hit in the two spots in front of him in recent days. Son missed Saturday's game due to illness but reportedly has a chance to return Sunday. Shin doesn't have much of a track record, as he has a grand total of 117 career plate appearances under his belt, but he's making a strong case for the leadoff role after going .393/.452/.500 at the plate over his last nine games. The bar to be worthy of consideration as a minimum-priced option is a very low one, and he clears it easily.
Shin's strong 6.9 percent walk rate should in theory be enough to offset his below-average 16.1 percent strikeout rate and keep him as a decent mid-rotation starter, but that hasn't been the case for him this season. Through 19 starts and 24 relief appearances, he's struggled to a 5.38 ERA. He was decent early in the season, but things really started to go south for him in late June, as he now owns an 8.01 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over his last eight starts. While there's seemingly at least something there for the young righty, it's tough to bet on a bounceback based on what he did his last time out, when he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in three innings of work against the Bears. A trip to the league's most hitter-friendly park probably isn't what he needs to turn things around.
The stack featured here skips Jose Pirela ($5,700), who hasn't been as hot as the other names mentioned and is very expensive, though he's always worth considering if you have room. Koo is the top-tier option I'd prefer considering his .409/.469/.705 line over his last 11 games, a stretch in which he's homered three times. Cleanup man Oh has been tearing the cover off the ball as well, homering eight times in his last 21 games while hitting .300/.400/.686. Kim's season-long numbers remain poor, which has suppressed his price tag, but he's been quite good since returning from a well-deserved demotion in mid-September. He's cleared the fence twice in 10 games and driven in 10 runs while hitting .410.