Hanwha! The Eagles pulled out the most exciting game in the KBO on Tuesday. We’ll see if they can win two in a row for the fifth time this season in what amounts to Wednesday’s highlight game with Dan Straily for Lotte and Warwick Saupold for Hanwha.
There are four other games on the docket and weather doesn’t appear to be a factor, so we should get all of them. You’ll get analysis on all of the games for the next few days before we shut this KBO thing down in other to focus on more pressing sports markets in North America. I talked about that on Monday’s edition of The Bettor’s Box.
I’ll keep updating the Bullpen Report, though, so you’ll still have that. I’ll also chat about the KBO on the podcast up until MLB Opening Day on July 23.
Odds are from BetOnline Sportsbook per usual, but also per usual, shop around. Find the best prices. Check out our sportsbook reviews if you need another place to post up. Being able to shop around for the best odds will help immensely in the long run and that means having multiple sportsbooks at your disposal.
Alright, here we go. Here are the KBO write-ups for Wednesday July 8:
LG Twins (-103) “at” Doosan Bears (-127); Total: 10
Once again, Doosan beat LG. The Bears are now 31-8 in the last 39 meetings against their roommates. It would seem as though LG should have a good chance tonight with foreign pitcher Casey Kelly on the hill. Kelly has a 4.89 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP and he has done a number on his FIP recently by allowing seven home runs over his last six starts. He now has a 4.72 FIP.
Kelly still deserves a little better fate in that he has a 67.9% LOB%, which is down from the 71.5% he had last season when he posted a 2.55 ERA. Kelly just hasn’t showcased the same level of command this season. He allowed seven homers last year in 180.1 innings. The ball seems to have more jump to it this season, but that is still a big spike for Kelly. Especially when you consider that he has allowed six of his seven homers in this Jamsil Stadium environment, which is typically a lot better for pitchers than it is for hitters.
Kelly has had a lot of bumps in the road this season for one reason or another. Perhaps his command profile has dropped off because of an underlying injury. Maybe he has a mechanical concern. Whatever the case, he simply hasn’t been sharp.
Park Jong-gi is a bit of a wild card in his own right. The 25-year-old Doosan right-hander just returned to the league for the first time since 2015. In 19 innings, he has allowed eight runs on 18 hits with a 16/7 K/BB ratio. He allowed three runs on seven hits in three innings last time out against Kiwoom. He threw six shutout innings against LG back on June 20.
He has only allowed one home run, which came in his first start against Hanwha. There just isn’t a whole lot of information on Park that we can reliably look at in order to handicap him. What we know is that he’s got a 3.79 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP, but it is a small sample size. We have more data on Kelly, but he seems to have a hitch in his giddy up as I’m sure people still say somewhere.
I don’t really think the gap between LG and Doosan is big, if there is one at all. I certainly don’t think a healthy LG team is that far from Doosan and the Twins are a bit healthier now than they were last week. Also, long-term, Kelly is better than Park.
The Doosan offense is locked into one of its productive periods again, which has probably influenced the market a little bit too heavily here. Granted, Doosan also has LG’s number, so that could be part it, too. I just think I’d take my chances with Kelly at this price more than I’d back Park and the Bears.
Lotte Giants (-183) at Hanwha Eagles (+153); Total: 8
We’ve got a real low total here because Dan Straily is going for Lotte and Warwick Saupold is going for Hanwha. As a general rule, the ballpark in Daejeon-Hanbat is a low-scoring run environment, so the total of 8 makes a lot of sense here. We also have two foreign pitchers and two subpar offenses.
If anybody ever asks you why pitcher wins are an asinine statistic and a terrible measure of success, look at Dan Straily. Straily has allowed 19 earned runs in 67.2 innings of work with 71 strikeouts. He has a 2.53 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. His record sits at 1-2.
Since May 26, Straily has made seven starts. He’s allowed 10 earned runs in 45.2 innings of work with 46 strikeouts and eight walks. They have all been no decisions. Pitcher win-loss is f’ing stupid.
Straily has been great and I see no reason why he wouldn’t continue to be against this bad Hanwha offense. The Eagles are ninth in batting average and OBP and 10th in SLG. They actually hit two home runs yesterday and now have 11 HR in 25 home games this season.
Lotte has scored 4.5 runs per game on the road this season. Maybe that is what Saupold needs to get back on track. The 30-year-old second-year pitcher has a 4.00 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP. He seems to have Casey Kelly-itis in Year 2. He had a 3.51 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP last season. This year, he’s allowed 87 hits in 69.2 innings of work. Saupold hasn’t gotten much help from his defense with a .347 BABIP against. His 4.00 ERA comes with a 3.66 FIP, so he has gotten unlucky.
His K% is down from last season, so that is his own doing, but he seems to have deserved a better fate or at least some better defense played behind him. Saupold has actually allowed at least seven hits in nine of his last 10 starts, so he’s been forced to try and dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge all kinds of trouble. Last time out, he couldn’t do that, as he allowed six runs on 10 hits at Kia.
He does face a much weaker lineup here and will be pitching in a much more favorable park. Saupold allowed seven runs on 13 hits on the road at Lotte on June 9. I would not expect the same thing here. Unfortunately, I would not expect much out of his offense either.
I felt like Hanwha was a good underdog play yesterday and they actually came through. I’m not sure I’d rush to back them against Straily here.
KT Wiz (-135) at Kia Tigers (+105); Total: 9
So, we’re gonna do that, eh? We’re going to assume that Odrisamer Despaigne is fixed because he allowed one run on six hits with seven strikeouts against Kiwoom last time out. He might be. It doesn’t take away from the fact that he allowed four runs in four of his five previous starts and had a 10-run disaster against Doosan to begin June.
Despaigne goes to Kia, where the Tigers have scored over six runs per game. Command has been an issue recently for Despaigne, who has allowed all seven of his homers over his last seven starts and was not missing a whole lot of bats for a while before his most recent performance.
It’s entirely possible that whatever was wrong has been fixed. KT has also tried to keep Despaigne on a MLB schedule by pitching every fifth day, which is often not the case in the KBO because of the Monday scheduled off day. Despaigne will be pitching on normal MLB rest here and he has been better in that scenario for the most part. If those are the magic beans that he needs to pitch well, so be it.
Also, let’s be honest, the Kia offense is missing a couple of pieces, as their 2B and 3B are both out. 2B Kim Sun-bin (.378/.462/.467) and SS Ryu Ji-hyeok (.281/.458/.524) remain out. That will make things tougher on Kia. Despaigne gets a watered-down Kia offense and has a positive outing to build off of. That could be all that he and the Wiz need.
Facing Lee Min-woo could also help. The 27-year-old has a rather ugly 4.70 ERA, but a solid 1.34 WHIP. He’s only allowed four homers in 51.2 innings of work. He’s gotten a bit unlucky this season. He has a 61.8% LOB%. This has been a problem throughout his career, but it especially hurts as a starting pitcher. His 4.70 ERA comes with a 4.49 FIP. He doesn’t register enough strikeouts to grade overly well in the FIP department, but his low LOB% has certainly hurt him a lot this season. He has the fourth-lowest LOB% in the KBO among qualified pitchers.
I think he’s a bit better than his ERA would suggest. Despaigne is the primary wild card in this start, but the KT offense is also so hit or miss. There are a lot of really good individual pieces with that KT offense, but you never know what you are going to get from them.
The KT bullpen seems to have stabilized quite a bit of late and yesterday’s lopsided win allowed the Wiz to sit their primary relievers for another day. That is really important because they are not a deep bullpen.
I feel like I’m making a case for the under here, but games in Gwangju have averaged 11 runs. This is a good hitting environment and this is a low total of 9. I could keep talking in circles about this game. I think Lee is a positive regression candidate to a degree and I’m not sure Despaigne is fixed, but if he is and Kia isn’t going to score again, then they are going to face quite an uphill climb.
Samsung Lions (-105) at Kiwoom Heroes (-125); Total: 9.5
So, the Samsung Lions are on the move. They’ve won eight of 10 and easily have the better starting pitcher going here in Won Tae-in. It will be Moon Sung-hyun in another spot start role for a Kiwoom squad that has some pitching injuries and real rotation concerns.
Won will be making his 12th appearance of the season and 11th start. He’s allowed 20 earned runs on 60 hits with a 36/21 K/BB ratio. He’s got a 2.97 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP, which are both great numbers, but let’s look at the underlying metrics a little. Won has a 4.80 FIP to go with his 2.97 ERA. He’s running a .281 BABIP, which is pretty in line with what he did last season, but he had a 4.82 ERA and a 4.71 FIP.
What’s the difference? His 83.1% LOB%. That ranks second in the KBO behind Drew Rucinski among qualified pitchers. It is better than Koo Chang-mo’s LOB% at 80.8%. Won has gotten extremely lucky in the sequencing department. Samsung is a great defensive team, but he has really gotten fortunate. He’s running a 14% K%, so we’d really expect him to be below league average. Instead, he’s almost leading the league.
Somebody is going to catch him on a bad day and they’re going to put up a big number. This might be like the Bae Je-seong start with eight runs allowed over three innings. One of those feels like it is coming. I don’t know if it will be today against Kiwoom. Maybe the strength of the Lions defense is enough to stave off one of those days, but his LOB% will see a major correction at some point.
This will be the eighth appearance of 2020 for Moon Sung-hyun. The 28-year-old made 34 appearances in 2015, one in 2018, and then has worked 8.1 innings this season. He’s allowed two runs on six hits with a 6/5 K/BB ratio. Moon has maxed out at 36 pitches so that’s what we can reasonably expect here. That means another long day for the Kiwoom pen, which threw seven innings on Tuesday.
As good as the Heroes pen has been, having to go to the pen early is a real challenge. It brings lesser relievers into the game and enhances the strain on the better ones. If this is the spot when Won has a blow-up, then 9.5 is way too low of a total here in my estimate. Of course, there is a lot of guesswork when you talk about a Johnny Wholestaff game like what Kiwoom faces.
The Kiwoom offense has cooled down once again, too. The streaky nature of these teams is a lot to keep up with. I still think Won is in line for a bad start and a talented team like Kiwoom would make sense for that kind of game.
NC Dinos (-200) at SK Wyverns (+160); Total: 10
Moon Seung-won did his part to keep SK in the game against Koo Chang-mo and the NC bullpen tried its best to oversee another disaster on Tuesday. That bullpen could get a lot more work here in this one with Lee Jae-hak on the hill. Jae-hak was actually really effective last season with a 3.75 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, but he has a 5.72 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP this season.
Jae-hak has that 5.72 ERA, but a 4.65 FIP, so he has gotten a little bit unlucky. He has a 63.5% LOB%, which is certainly part of the equation. His walk rate is higher than last year and his strikeout rate is lower, so he hasn’t done himself any favors. His HR rate is also elevated, but closer to his 2018 marks when he had a 4.79 ERA. That is about where his FIP is. In other words, I think Jae-hak is in line for a little positive regression.
He may also catch a break here because SK slugger Choi Jeong left injured in Tuesday’s game. SK has very few hitters of consequence and he is one of them. That would really hurt SK’s chances of doing any damage against Jae-hak in this start.
My arch-nemesis Lee Geon-wook is on the mound for SK here. We saw some mild regression last time out, but he should have gotten absolutely rocked. Geon-wook allowed 12 baserunners in just 4.1 innings, but managed to only allow three runs to Samsung. He’s allowed 51 baserunners in 36.2 innings. He has a 1.39 WHIP and a 3.19 ERA, but a 4.71 FIP. I don’t see his .265 BABIP sticking around. I don’t see his 79.7% LOB% sticking around.
I don’t like much of anything about this profile for Geon-wook. Only seven of his 29 hits have gone for extra bases, so maybe he’s done a decent job of contact management? His hard hit rate is 17%, which is a little better than average in this league, but nothing all that special.
The run line price is a little depressed for NC, but I am firmly on the fade Lee Geon-wook bandwagon based on the numbers that I am seeing here. I also think Jae-hak has pitched better than his stat line would indicate. The NC bullpen is scary to say the least, so there is that for the full game. NC -0.5 is -135 for the 1st 5 run line and that is not a bad bet at all in my estimation. In fact, whether it is out of spite or something else, I’m going to break my KBO betting moratorium to fade Geon-wook. We’ll see how it goes.
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