Big happenings to start off the week in the KBO. The NC Dinos lost and the Kiwoom Heroes blew out Doosan, so the Heroes are now just two games back for first place and only one game back in the win column. Doosan fell 2.5 games back of Kiwoom and back into a tie with the topsy-turvy LG Twins, who have won three in a row after seven straight losses.
Only four games were played on Tuesday, as Hanwha and Kia were rained out. Hopefully you got some positive notes out of the article yesterday. I’m still not tracking any plays, but in reading back through, it would have been a nice day if I was. Such is life, I guess. Maybe it’s just the blind squirrel theory. Maybe it’s something else.
Either way, we’re on to a new day. Five games are on tap, so Hanwha and Kia will make up their rainout another day. The same pitching matchup that was scheduled for Tuesday is on tap for Wednesday, so that will be an easy game to write up.
Bullpen Report is here.
Odds are from BetOnline Sportsbook, but be sure to look around for better prices. You’re probably going to find them on some games, or at least find some different props and whatnot.
Here are the write-ups for the July 1 round of KBO games:
Hanwha Eagles (+205) at Kia Tigers (-265); Total: 9
It will be Jang Shi-hwan and Im Ki-young once again in this one. Here’s what I wrote about it yesterday:
Jang Shi-hwan and Im Ki-young will get us started, as nine domestic pitchers are on the hill for Tuesday. Kia is a big home favorite, which should come as no surprise, given that they have scored 6.3 runs per game at home this season. Hanwha has actually scored over four runs per game on the road, which is pretty good given that they have scored exactly three runs per game at home.
My first inclination is that this total is too low. Certainly I’m a big fan of what Im Ki-young has done this season for Kia. He hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in a start and that happened in his first outing of the year. It is entirely possible that he has turned the corner and is having a breakout season at age 27 because he missed 2015-16 and also missed most of 2019.
It could also be that he’s just pitching over his head. Thirteen of his 43 hits have gone for extra bases. Im’s 8.1 K/9 would be the highest of his career as at least a part-time starter by a large margin. His 1.45 BB/9 would be second to his 2017, which was his best season with a 3.65 ERA and a 4.05 FIP in 118.1 innings. His 18.2% K%-BB% would be 7.1% higher than his next best season.
He’s been great. And maybe he can sustain it. And maybe Hanwha isn’t the team to deliver that potential regression shot. I don’t really know, but I do know that he’s probably something of a fade guy moving forward. He has certainly benefitted from that low walk rate with only seven free passes in 43.1 innings. He’s also only allowed two home runs. I just don’t think he can keep being this good.
Jang Shi-hwan is something. He has 46 strikeouts in 37.2 innings, which is excellent. He also has 35 walks in 37.2 innings, which is not excellent. He’s given up 53 hits, including 16 extra-base hits. He struck out nine over five innings last time out on 116 pitches. The last time he faced Kia, he threw 117 pitches over six innings and walked six. He allowed seven runs in his next start.
Jang isn’t all that reliable. The strikeout numbers are nice, but the command profile seems to leave something to be desired. The walk rate is a little bit magnified by the fact that he allowed 14 walks in 14 innings during a three-start stretch in May, but I’m still not a huge believer in the profile.
If nothing else, he’s made eight starts and allowed at least four runs in four of them. That would be a good chunk of the way to the total and he does not work very deep into games.
Kia is a great hitter’s park. Games in Gwangju have averaged 11.6 runs per game. The total here of 9 just doesn’t make sense to me. The Kia bullpen should be better than it is and the Hanwha bullpen has been one of the worst all season long.
The money line is a little higher today than it was yesterday, but the total remains the same. I still think the 9 is a little low. I’d be even more worried about the extended layoff for Im now that he’s gone another day without pitching because of the rain.
Doosan Bears (+120) at Kiwoom Heroes (-150); Total: 10
Lee Young-ha will get another opportunity for Doosan in this Wednesday game against Kiwoom. Lee has not pitched well at all lately. Over his last three starts, two of which were away from the safety net of Jamsil Stadium, Lee has allowed 18 earned runs on 31 hits with 11 strikeouts and four walks. He’s allowed both of the homers on his stat line in that span.
He faced NC, LG, and SK, so the middle start was at home. That’s the one he didn’t allow a homer in. Overall, it has been a bad year for Lee. He has a 6.29 ERA with a 1.89 WHIP. He’s only got 35 strikeouts to go along with 27 walks. The low homer total is the only redeeming quality of his stat line. He’s actually allowed 65 hits in his 48.2 innings, a sign of both his bad command and the fact that Doosan is one of the worst defensive teams in the league.
He draws a Kiwoom offense firing on all cylinders right now. This will be his first start against Kiwoom and his fifth start away from Jamsil Stadium. He’s allowed 19 earned runs and 22 runs total on 34 hits with 15 strikeouts and 15 walks in just 21 innings of work. In other words, it has not gone well for him at all. Only three of his nine starts have been “quality starts”, which require at least six innings and no more than three earned runs.
Han Hyun-hee will get the nod for Kiwoom in this one. Triple H, as we call him around these parts, has a 4.38 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP in his 51.1 innings of work. He has allowed 61 hits, but only six have gone for extra bases with four doubles and two home runs. He’s got a 38/12 K/BB ratio. Aside from the barrage of singles, Triple H has actually pitched really well overall.
Han spent all of last season as a reliever with 61 appearances and a strong 3.41 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP. He was nearly a full-time starter in 2018 and made 30 starts over 2015-17, so this is nothing new for him. Obviously Doosan is a different kind of matchup with over seven runs per game on the road. They are also third in SLG on the season.
Unless Lee Young-ha suddenly flips the switch and moves back to 2019 territory, Kiwoom should be able to put up some runs here. The key to the bet is the Doosan offense, which was held in check by Lee Seung-ho on Tuesday. Will they get the bats going on Wednesday?
The bullpens could be important here, too. Since June 1, Doosan’s bullpen ERA is 4.31, as they’ve had some recent reversals. Kiwoom, meanwhile, has a 3.42 ERA with a 1.15 WHIP since the start of the month. They’ve been exceptional and only Samsung and Kia have been anywhere close to them in that span.
If this rough patch continues for Lee Young-ha, his 2019 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.28 WHIP might be the most misleading 2019 season of all in the KBO.
SK Wyverns (+100) at Samsung Lions (-130); Total: 8.5
We’ve got a very low total here as SK ace Moon Seung-won takes the hill against Samsung. The Lions will counter with foreign pitcher David Buchanan, who has paid homage to Charles Dickens with the best of times and the worst of times this season. Buchanan has allowed 28 earned runs on 59 hits in 55.2 innings of work. He’s given up eight home runs.
This will be his 10th start. He’s allowed 23 of his 28 earned runs in three of his nine starts. He’s allowed 28 of his 59 hits in those starts and five of the eight home runs. He just gave up eight runs on 12 hits to Hanwha on June 25 in one of the most stunning starts of the season.
You really don’t know what you’re going to get with Buchanan. In one of his “good” starts, he allowed nine hits over seven innings against Doosan, but didn’t give up a run. He also has 15 of his 37 strikeouts in two of his nine starts. The low strikeout rate is what really worries me the most for Buchanan. He’s living on BABIP for the most part. Samsung is one of the better defensive teams in the KBO, as they rank second in Wins Above Average per Statiz. Samsung has also had one of the league’s best bullpens over the last several weeks.
SK’s offense is bad, but so was Hanwha’s. It is far from a coincidence that Buchanan’s main issues have been at home. Lions Park in Daegu can be a launching pad. Seven of Buchanan’s eight homers have come at home and the other one was at Kia, another bad pitcher’s park. Buchanan’s 5.15 FIP is not very good for a foreign pitcher. There is a chance that SK can get to him a little today.
I regret to inform you that I am looking for regression from Moon Seung-won. The SK ace has a 3.23 ERA with a 3.40 FIP and has actually been pretty good dating back to 2018. He’s got 52 strikeouts against just 12 walks in 53 innings this year. He’s given up four homers and 12 doubles out of his 48 hits, but he’s been very good overall.
The problem is that we’re really seeing something we’ve never seen before from Moon. His 24% K% is well above his previous career-best mark at 18.6%. His HR/9 is 0.68. It has been more than double that every year otherwise. Even last season, when the ball was deadened, Moon allowed 23 HR in 144 innings.
Maybe the 30-year-old has made some earth-shattering adjustment and this is the new normal. He had a 3.88 ERA last season due in large part to a 77% LOB%. He had a 4.80 FIP. That was actually a career best. He also ran a .251 BABIP last season.
There are just too many things that don’t add up for Moon to keep this current pace. Make of that what you will, given that he has a putrid offense that hasn’t made for much run support. After all, Moon has made nine starts, several of which have been good, and his team just improved to 2-7 in his nine starts with a win over Doosan last week.
KT Wiz (+100) at LG Twins (-130); Total: 10
Our old friend Bae Je-seong will take the hill for KT at Jamsil Stadium against LG. LG will counter with Cha Woo-chan. Bae has a 3.91 ERA with a 1.47 WHIP. The 23-year-old has done enough from a contact management standpoint to keep his numbers low despite a pretty weak 31/23 K/BB ratio.
Bae was a premium regression candidate from his first four starts and then allowed seven runs in five innings to Kiwoom. He threw eight shutout the next time against Lotte before allowing 12 runs on 15 hits in his next 8.2 innings. He threw six good innings against NC last time out. In other words, Bae has been all over the place recently.
He’s still running a 5.25 FIP with his 3.91 ERA. FanGraphs has him down for a 77.9% LOB%, which is really high given the low strikeout rate that he has had throughout the season. His home run rate is up quite a bit from last year, which is a primary reason for the high FIP. Fortunately, Jamsil Stadium is not a great place for power. In fact, between LG and Doosan home games, only 63 HR have been hit in 48 games.
That should probably help out Bae in this one. It should also help out Cha, who bounced back really nicely in his most recent start. Cha had allowed eight runs on six hits in just one inning against Doosan on June 19. He threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and only allowed one hit against Kiwoom last time out.
He draws another good lineup on paper here in KT, but the Wiz have been so inconsistent in so many different ways. They also just scored three runs over 11 innings in Doosan. They now have scored just 5.1 runs per game on the road. They’ve also fallen to 9-15 because they can’t outscore teams like they can at home. Granted, in their defense, they are only -12 in run differential. Their bullpen has cost them a lot of road games.
That bullpen is really shallow on talent and everybody of consequence out there pitched yesterday, so we’ll be watching that later in the week again.
Still, I think Bae can be okay in this park and I don’t trust KT’s offense much away from home. LG’s bullpen was a little shaky yesterday, but at least they took a step forward after struggling most of the month.
Lotte Giants (+255) at NC Dinos (-330); Total: 9.5
So, unfortunately, I was wrong. It will be Jang Won-sam against Koo Chang-mo. I was hoping for Dan Straily. We didn’t get that. Instead, we get the 37-year-old Jang, who allowed five runs on 10 hits in his only start of the season way back on May 12.
Lotte used 11 pitchers yesterday, as they pulled out all the stops to outlast NC in 11 innings. That was a true case of “win today and worry about tomorrow then”. Facing Koo Chang-mo, you know your odds are extremely low.
This is truly a hard handicap. Laying the Dinos price seems excessive, but might be needed. The -1.5 is high. The -2.5 isn’t great. But who knows what Lotte will do here. The 37-year-old Jang will know what’s at stake here. He’s going to have to wear a serious beating if he pitches badly. He only threw 58 pitches last time out, but he’ll be pushed to go as far as possible here. It doesn’t matter if he allows 15 runs. He’s going to throw pitches until it’s unsafe for him to keep doing so. Lotte has to protect the pen for what will likely be the rubber match tomorrow.
In that respect, the over might actually make sense. Koo did allow five runs in four innings last time out as he is no longer invincible. Maybe Lotte can scratch out a run or two to help the cause? I think the over is really the only legitimate consideration here. NC may have a field day if Jang has to take his lumps for the good of the entire team.