JP's KBO June 4 - 5 Writeup
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JP's KBO June 4 - 5 Writeup

JP
06-04-2020

June 4th – 5th

KBO NOTES – DAY 15

OVERALL RECORD: +58.58 (83-57-4)

Record on 4U MAX Plays: 1-0 (+4U)

Record on 3U Plays: 13-2-1 (+29.8U)

Record on 2.5U Plays: 3-6 (-8.37U)

Record on 2U Plays: 36-17-2 (+35.1U)

Record on 1U Plays: 26-23-1 (-1.7U)

Record on .5U Plays (nearly all +200 or greater): 4-9 (-.25U)

 

 

G1: Hanwha Eagles (+215) VS NC Dinos (-305) O/U 10

Eagles:

SP: Shi-hwang Jang (2/10)

            2019 ERA: 4.95

            2020 Stats: 6.93 ERA, 2.11 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 34 H, 31 K, 18 BB

Jang has been an absolute mess this year, getting batted around in every one of his starts other than his debut against SK, where he managed to only surrender 2 ER despite giving up 9 hits. Practically everything has been disastrous – his BB/9 is an incomprehensively bad 6.57, he’s getting knocked around hard (11 XBH in 24 IP), and his FIP (4.84) suggests that even if positive regression is on the way, he won’t be much better anyway. The only thing he has going for him is his strikeout rate, but despite striking out 7 against NC in his last start, he still gave up 6 hits, 4 walks, and 4 ER in a 5-inning start that could’ve been even worse. This time, I do think it’ll be worse. The Dinos are coming off a 10-run outburst last night in which most of the starters were taken out in the mid to late innings, and no key pieces of the bullpen were used. Because of how grueling the KBO schedule is, this is great news and gives them another advantage over a Hanwha team that lost a hard-fought game last night against Kiwoom. Jang practically has only one hope – striking out hitters in high-intensity situations the entire game and making perfect pitches at perfect times. Given that he hasn’t been able to do that in a single outing this year, I don’t have a ton of faith that it’ll change tonight. Give me the Dinos all day.

HITTING: 10th in average, runs, and OPS (yikes)

Dinos:

SP: Mike Wright (6.5/10)

            2019 ERA: 7.98 (MLB)

            2020 Stats: 3.21 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 28 IP, 22 H, 24 K, 12 BB

Wright is a little bit of a confounding case. His best two starts of the season came against the two best hitting teams in the league (Doosan and KT), where he locked down their bats to the tune of a combined 1 ER over 11 IP with 9 K. In his last appearance vs Hanwha, Wright’s statline was the following: 6 IP / 4 ER / 2 H / 4 K / 2 BB. The Eagles were scoreless through four innings, before putting up a run in the fifth and three on a 3-run, 2-out HR in the sixth, so barring that swing, Wright was pretty decent overall. I will say this: I’m really not as enamored as some are on Wright. His FIP is not good – 5.27 – and a BB/9 of 3.86 is really bad for any KBO starter, much less someone who we expect to be a high-end pitcher. He also possesses a LOB% of 85.5, which is really, really high and points towards regression as well. All that being said, he does have a terrific matchup vs Hanwha tonight, as long as he limits the long ball. This game is as much about NC’s ability to put up 6+ runs as Wright’s ability to limit Hanwha to under 3-4, and even if Wright isn’t terrific, he’s not the kind of pitcher who gets absolutely blown up and takes NC out of a game they should win easily. Even his worst starts have been pretty solid, and I’m not feeling bad about rolling with him in a very favorable spot, especially since the Dinos are rested and have their full bullpen available, two things that can’t be said for Hanwha.

HITTING: 3rd in average, 1st in runs and OPS

Game Plays:

1: NC -1.5 (-160) 3U

2: OV 10 (-120) 2U

3: NC TT OV 6.5 (+100) 1U

 

 

G2: Kiwoom Heroes (-175) VS LG Twins (+145) O/U 10

Heroes:

SP: Won-tae Choi

            2019 ERA: 3.38

            2020 Stats: 3.67 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 27 IP, 27 H, 20 K, 6 BB

Choi is an example of a KBO pitcher who has been extremely solid without being particularly flashy. The 3.67 ERA doesn’t necessarily scream elite, but the guy just consistently produces quality starts and demonstrates durability, lasting 6+ innings in more than half of his starts this season. This is aided by top-tier command (2.00 BB/9, 0 HBP), limiting hard contact (6 XBH in 27 IP), and striking out enough to stay competitive, though not in the upper echelon of KBO arms. All things considered, this is the kind of guy I love in the KBO – he barely ever has bad starts, the analytics support him (3.29 FIP and .302 BABIP both suggest consistency), he’s pitched well against quality opponents (limited KT to 2 ER over 6 IP in his last start), and combines excellent command and few hard-hit balls, all signs that point to this being a guy we can trust. He does have a tough matchup against a Twins team that has swung the bat well recently, but I don’t think LG is anywhere near bulletproof, and just because they have beat up on bad pitching doesn’t mean they’re a team to always avoid. Having Choi on the mound gives me the comfort to look towards a couple different under plays, and potentially money on Kiwoom, though I’m not as enamored with their bats as some are.

HITTING: 6th in average, 3rd in runs, 5th in OPS

Twins:

SP: Chan-gyu Lim

            2019 ERA: 4.97

            2020 Stats: 4.43 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 26 H, 23 K, 6 BB

Given Lim’s history as a below-average KBO arm and his subpar surface stats this year, I wouldn’t blame you for writing him off against the Heroes (Lim was a late replacement as the starter tonight for Woo-chan Cha, but he’s pitching on normal rest). However, I recommend not doing that, and I’ll give a quick look into why. I watched Lim’s last start vs Kia, and while he gave up base hits, a lot of that was due to soft contact that found holes, and his defense was absolutely atrocious. Furthermore, he lacked his best control and strikeout stuff, but still would’ve presented a very quality start barring two absolutely horrible errors that opened the floodgates for Kia. In fact, the score was 0-0 with one out in the fifth… before Kia scored 7 runs. Lim’s statline from that game indicates a way uglier performance than what he actually put forth. Honestly, that game may be a small representation of Lim’s season: looking at the peripherals, you’re seeing a guy that’s pitched much better than a 4.43 ERA suggests. Here are three examples: a 2.42 BB/9 represents upper-tier command, a 23% K% is very high-end for a starter, a .357 BABIP is absurdly high and suggests terrible luck (since he’s only given up 4 XBH all season), and finally, a 2.96 FIP, nearly two points lower than his ERA, puts the icing on the cake in terms of positive regression. All that mumbo-jumbo is to say that while Lim hasn’t been the best pitcher in the KBO this season, this is a guy who the analytics say is way underrated.

HITTING: 4th in average, 5th in runs, 3rd in OPS

Game Plays:

1: UN 10.5 (-125) 2U

2: 1H UN 5.5 (+100) 2U

 

 

G3: Doosan Bears (-125) VS Kia Tigers (+105) O/U 11

Bears:

SP: Young-ha Lee (3.5/10)

            2019 ERA: 3.64

            2020 Stats: 5.14 ERA, 1.82 WHIP, 28 IP, 32 H, 17 K, 19 BB

The first thing that stands out about Lee’s statline is his horrid 6.11 BB/9, which is almost as bad as Hanwha’s Shi-hwang Jang. This is clearly problematic – it’s almost impossible to work around nearly a walk per inning, especially without nasty strikeout stuff in a league like the KBO that prioritizes hitting the ball in play. Lee has had command problems his entire KBO career – never retaining a BB/9 below 3.36 – but 6.11 is simply unsustainably bad for a pitcher that is regarded as a very decent young arm with high-end potential. I tried to separate his five starts by command – he has three decent ones (2, 2, and 3 walks each) and two horrendous ones (6 walks each) – but that doesn’t help Lee’s cause much, though he’s been (predictably) slightly better in the lower-walk starts. He demonstrated intriguing durability in his last start – 7.2 IP against Lotte – but was still hit pretty hard, giving up 8 hits and 3 ER against a bad team. I don’t have much confidence in him tonight against Kia, even though I think the Tigers offense is inconsistent and not one I’d necessarily bet on any given night. Let’s look at the other side.

HITTING: 2nd in average, 3rd in runs, 4th in OPS

Tigers:

SP: Min-woo Lee

            2019 ERA: 5.43 (mostly as a reliever)

            2020 Stats: 3.23 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 30.2 IP, 23 H, 23 K, 11 BB

If there’s been any pitcher in the KBO who has surprised me this season, it’s Lee. After a few below-average seasons as a reliever, Lee has suddenly jumped out into the forefront of KBO starters this season, posting a 3.23 ERA supported by a 3.30 FIP. I wrote before his last start that I was unconvinced with his work – basing much of that on the fact that he’d only pitched against one decent team the entire season and was shelled in that outing – but Lee looked very competitive in 7 IP, striking out 8 and giving up just 3 hits/1 ER. That being said, I watched that game, and Lee did luck into a lot of outs. LG hit a few rockets that were robbed, including three straight in one inning, so I’m still unconvinced by his work. Kia is a trendy pick tonight on the road, and I get why, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Lee hasn’t faced a real challenge yet, and that his below-average 3.23 BB/9 combined with a strikeout rate that doesn’t impress me beyond what I believe is an outlier in his last start may catch up to him here. Doosan feasts on right-handed arms with command issues, and cruised to a victory last night that allowed them to rest their starters towards the end of the game and save their better bullpen arms. Yes, Kia may win, but I’m not going to be the one who points you in that direction. Honestly, I’m pretty excited to see what happens tonight. If Lee dances his way to a good start here, I’m sold. I’m just not there yet. I won’t play anything on either side, but I do like the overs.

HITTING: 5th in average, 6th in runs and OPS

Game Plays:

1: OV 11 (-105) 1U

2: 1H OV 6 (-120) 1U

 

 


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