This article is part of our DraftKings KBO series.
Thursday's KBO slate featured plenty of top pitching, though the expected duel between Eric Jokisch and Ryan Carpenter wound up finishing as an 8-8 tie. Carpenter held up his end of the bargain, striking out nine while allowing two runs (one earned) over six innings of work, but three runs in each of the final two frames for the Heroes erased all that strong work. The most impressive pitching on the night actually came from 20-year-old righty Min Ho Lee, who held the defending champions to two runs (one earned) over 6.1 frames while striking out 11, helping his Twins secure a 2-0 win.
Friday's DraftKings slate will contain just four games, as neither half of the Twins-Dinos doubleheader will be included. The number of games may wind up shrinking again to just three, as the Tigers-Lions game is threatened by rain, though it doesn't look close to a guaranteed rainout, so players from that contest will show up in this column.
Je Seong Bae ($9,800) might be out of place as the most expensive pitcher on most nights, but he's been a strong option throughout the season and is worth paying up for on this small slate. Bae managed a 3.95 ERA last season, but it didn't look close to deserved given his poor combination of a 13.2 percent strikeout rate and 12.1 percent walk rate. He's gotten his ERA all the way down to 3.35 this season, but this time around it looks far more sustainable. His already poor walk rate has risen again to 13.1 percent, but that's been more than offset by his 21.9 percent strikeout rate. That gives him a fair amount of upside, while he's also had a steady floor, giving up no more than three runs in all but two of his 19 starts. He gets a fairly easy matchup Friday against a righty-heavy Giants lineup that ranks seventh in scoring.
Jung Hyun Baek ($9,400) is another pitcher I wouldn't normally turn to in this price range, but I'd be fine looking his way given the limited number of palatable options available Friday. His game is threatened by rain, but if it goes forward, the fact that the southpaw will be facing a lefty-heavy Tigers lineup that ranks last in scoring should offset the fact that he'll be doing so at the most hitter-friendly park in the league. Baek's underlying numbers don't fully support his 2.63 ERA, but his combination of a 16.3 percent strikeout rate and 8.9 percent walk rate should keep him effective going forward. He's also shown considerably more strikeout prowess in the second half, posting an 8.5 K/9 after recording a pedestrian 5.2 K/9 before the Olympic break.
Won Tae Choi ($7,400) is a low-ceiling option considering his 14.8 percent strikeout rate, and he's been below-average in that category in each of the previous three seasons, so don't expect that to change any time soon. He's been getting the job done even with that lack of strikeouts for some time now, as he owns a respectable 4.10 ERA over the last four seasons despite a modest 15.6 percent strikeout rate, with his 6.9 percent walk rate over that stretch helping limit big innings. That's mostly been the case for him thus far in the second half, as he's allowed no more than two runs in five of his six starts since the break, though he allowed a whopping 11 runs in his late-August start against the Twins, an outing which single-handedly raised his ERA by nearly a run. Such an implosion is always a possibility for a pitcher who doesn't get many whiffs, but it shouldn't be the expected result here against the ninth-ranked Eagles lineup.
Will Craig ($4,400) hasn't lit the world on fire thus far in his KBO career, but his 28 games in the league represent a small enough sample that the rule about giving the benefit of the doubt to players with MLB experience certainly still applies. Craig only appeared in 20 MLB games before heading overseas and didn't do much with his opportunities, but merely reaching that level means he has one of the most impressive resumes in Korea. To get an idea of just how small a sample 28 games is, it's worth noting that Craig owned .805 OPS as recently as midway through Sunday's doubleheader against the Giants. He's gone 1-for-17 since then, a run which dropped his OPS by 98 points but would hardly be noticeable over a full season. Look for him to get back on track Friday, as he'll get the platoon advantage against rookie lefty Ki Joong Kim, whose passable 4.79 ERA comes with a 1.85 WHIP.
Joo Hwan Choi ($4,200) has been a very successful signing for the Landers, who are back in playoff contention after finishing a disappointing ninth last season. His age-33 season has been one of the best of his 14-year career, as his .875 OPS trails only his .979 mark from 2018. If not for time missed due to injuries, he could stand a good chance at tying his career high of 26 homers set that same season, as he already has 16 home runs in 82 games this year. He's swung a particularly hot bat over his last 20 games, hitting .379/.461/.682 with six homers. He's a strong option Friday against his former team, the Bears, as he'll get the platoon advantage against 22-year-old righty Been Gwak, who owns a 5.02 ERA and 1.70 WHIP.
Sticking with the Landers, Jeong Beom Lee ($2,000) has hit second for the team in two straight games and will be a very interesting value play if he remains there Friday, as he'll also get the platoon advantage against the unreliable Gwak. That lineup spot and matchup cover almost the entirety of the reason to be interested in Lee, as his KBO resume includes a grand total of four games, but it doesn't take much at all for a player to be worth a look if he costs the absolute minimum. Lee has at least looked quite good in his tiny sample, going 5-for-13 with a homer. He also looked good at the Futures League level prior to his promotion, hitting .284/.377/.432 in 59 games.
You may have noticed the absence of Dan Straily in the itchers section above. While the veteran righty was one of the best pitchers in the league last season, he's struggled to a 4.60 ERA this year and owns an awful 7.48 ERA and 2.17 WHIP over his last five starts. Ah Seop Son ($3,700) will get the platoon advantage against him and looks like a strong mid-priced outfield option despite the pedigree of his opponent. Son hits for minimal power, homering just once all season, but he remains an excellent contact hitter in his 15th KBO season. He's hit .354 over his last 17 games, bringing his season average up to .304, though that's still well below the .352 he hit last season, so he's clearly capable of even more.
Stacks to Consider
This game is at risk of a rainout, but if the weather cooperates, the Lions look like the clear top stack option. Han has made just four appearances this season, one as a starter and three in relief, pitching for the first time since 2018 after spending the last two years fulfilling his mandatory military service requirements. He owns a 6.14 ERA in limited action, and there's little reason to believe that mark is about to improve given his career numbers. The 28-year-old owns a career 6.09 ERA and 1.73 WHIP over parts of eight seasons at the KBO level. His 19.1 percent strikeout rate is solid, but it comes with a 13.2 percent walk rate. He's topped out at 57 pitches this season, so he probably won't pitch too deep into Friday's game, but facing the Tigers' long relievers for several innings will also be good for the Lions' bats. The stack featured here skips leadoff man Ja Wook Koo ($6,100), as it's hard to start both him and Pirela given their price tags. Pirela bats closer to Oh and Lee in the heart of the order, though Koo is worth a look if you can find budget space for him.
Oh clearly has talent, as he was a regional-round pick in last year's draft (a round which precedes the bulk of the draft in which teams can select one player from their local area). The fact that he's made 17 starts for a contending team at age 20 also speaks to his talent, though it's unlikely he would still be in that role were it not for the Landers' injury crisis and lack of alternatives. The young lefty actually owned a very respectable 4.28 ERA as late in the season as June 23, but things have fallen apart for him since then. In his last seven starts, he's struggled to an 8.07 ERA and 2.34 WHIP, striking out 21 batters in 29 innings while walking 27. That trend should continue here against the third-ranked Bears lineup. The stack listed here features the Bears' top three right-handed bats, though Jae Hwan Kim ($5,400) and Jose Fernandez ($4,500) have been hot recently and certainly deserve consideration despite the platoon disadvantage.