JP's KBO June 9 - 10 Writeup
MLB
JP's KBO June 9 - 10 Writeup

JP
06-09-2020

June 9th – 10th

KBO NOTES – DAY 17

OVERALL RECORD: +84.00U (101-64-4)

Record on 4U MAX Plays: 4-0 (+16U)

Record on 3U Plays: 16-3-1 (+35.35U)

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

Record on 2U Plays: 43-18-2 (+40.8U)

Record on 1U Plays: 29-26-1 (-2.05U)

Record on .5U Plays (nearly all +200 or greater): 6-9 (+1.3U)

 

 

G1: NC Dinos (-175) VS Doosan Bears (+145)

Dinos:

SP: Drew Rucinski (7/10)

            2019 ERA: 3.05

            2020 Stats: 2.11 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 38.1 IP, 36 H, 38 K, 10 BB

As I discussed last week, Rucinski has no doubt been aided by pitching against subpar competition (only one of his six starts has come against an offense outside the bottom three), but he’s done everything that could be expected of a pitcher in his position, working consistently and efficiently to the tune of a 2.11 ERA and 3.08 FIP. Rucinski has produced a ton of strikeouts this year, ranking near the top of the league with a K% of 24.8. This is probably partially a product of pitching against terrible teams, but it doesn’t absurdly exceed his preseason prediction from Fangraphs of 20.4%, so even if it regresses a little bit he’s probably still going to be above-average. I said this last week, and Rucinski proceeded to lock down SK, but I will say it again here – I do not think he is as good as a 2.11 ERA suggests, but I do think he’s better than most starters in the KBO, and believe it or not, Doosan has struggled against good pitching recently, producing over 5 runs just three times in their last twelve games. I don’t expect Rucinski to put up a crazy statline and shut down the Bears for eight innings, but I do expect the seasoned competitor to put up a quality start on a big stage at home and limit damage to at most 3-4 runs. This matchup is a terrific litmus test for Rucinski’s future in the KBO, and professional baseball as a whole. If he’s able to prove that he can compete against the best teams in the league, he becomes far more appealing to MLB teams as well. I expect him to bring his best stuff tonight, and continue a successful analytical and results-oriented campaign.

HITTING: 1st in average, runs, and OPS

Bears:

SP: Raul Alcantara

            2019 ERA: 4.01

            2020 Stats: 4.63 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 35 IP, 43 H, 31 K, 9 BB

Despite being a former American professional player as well, Alcantara differs from Rucinski in many ways. On paper, the Bears starter has far better stuff. His fastball rings up to 99 MPH, and he possesses a serviceable slider and changeup. This hasn’t translated to better results, though, and Alcantara has severely struggled this year, also against bottom-tier competition. Four of his six starts have come against offenses outside the top-five in the KBO, but despite that, he’s only put forward one decent start, an outlier against a streaky Kia team. After an amazing 2019 in terms of BB/9 (1.41), Alcantara has significantly regressed to 2.31, which is still slightly above-average but more importantly has negated perhaps his biggest advantage last year. This likely is part of what explains a lackluster 4.35 FIP, which signals that his poor start to the season is here to stay. Other than two starts where he struck out 8 and 9, Alcantara has not topped four in a single outing, and against a stingy NC team that draws a ton of walks and doesn’t strike out much by percentage, he’s in trouble. Even if Alcantara does manage to strike out 7+ hitters, this doesn’t mean he’s escaped trouble. Last week vs KT, he K’d 8, and in the process gave up 5 ER over 5 IP. Doosan’s bullpen is absolutely shot – and wasn’t good to begin with – so if they’re forced to turn the ball over in the 5th or 6th, NC should be able to feast on their relievers. Alcantara has gotten hit hard (17 XBH over 35 IP, as compared to Rucinski’s 4 XBH over 38 IP) so he’s gotten hurt by worse than BABIP bad luck. With his worst matchup of the season tonight, I don’t project Alcantara to hang with the Dinos.

HITTING: 2nd in average and runs, T-4th in OPS

Game Plays:

1: NC TT OV 5.5 (-125) 3U

2: OV 10 (-130) 2U

3: NC -1.5 (+105) 2U

4: NC ML (-175) 1U

 

 

 

G2: Samsung Lions (+200) VS Kiwoom Heroes (-280) O/U 11

 Lions:

SP: Jung-hyun Baek (1/10)

            2019 ERA: 4.24

            2020 Stats: 10.29 ERA, 2.14 ERA, 14 IP, 28 H, 12 K, 2 BB

Baek’s ghastly counting stats pretty much do a sufficient job telling the story of his season. In three starts, he’s gotten absolutely torched, allowing 16 XBH in 14 IP, a stunning stat in itself. Last week against LG, he gave up fourteen hits in four innings, good for 8 ER. Predictably, Baek’s analytics reveal that he truly has been that bad, with a FIP approaching 8 and 3.86 HR/9. Baek wasn’t that horrible last year, but he wasn’t good either, and in all honesty, he hasn’t been a good pitching in the KBO for a single season his entire career. His low ERA is 4.38, coming in 2017, a season in which he only started 14 games. I can’t possibly fathom what Baek is still even doing in the starting rotation, and against a Kiwoom team that has punished bad pitching, I can’t imagine he’s in line for anything other than a beating. He hasn’t had a good pitching appearance since August of last year, and I don’t see that changing tonight. In fact, one could argue that Baek may be in for other struggles, too. He’s only had a K/BB ratio over 3 one time in his entire career, and it sits at 6.00 right now, suggesting that regression in that respect is on the way, too. I just don’t see how Baek suddenly turns his season around in a horrible matchup fresh off three straight abysmal starts. Plus the Heroes ace is starting? Dream come true.

HITTING: 8th in average, 6th in runs, 7th in OPS

Heroes:

SP: Eric Jokisch (8/10)

            2019 ERA: 3.13

            2020 Stats: 1.49 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 36.1 IP, 29 H, 30 K, 5 BB

Jokisch has had an incredible season thus far, but didn’t quite live up to expectations last week against a dumpster fire Hanwha team, giving up 8 hits and 3 ER over 6.1 IP. He did face some bad BABIP luck, though, as he only gave up 1 XBH over the course of the start, and a couple of the hits were just flipped softly into the outfield. Additionally, his manager clearly left him in too long, as he looked gassed en route to giving up two ER in the 7th inning after battling for six strong. Overall, Jokisch has pitched successfully against good teams and bad, locking down KT and LG in two encouraging starts. Additionally, Jokisch stifled Samsung to the tune of 7 K’s, 3 hits, and 0 ER over 6 IP in his second start of the season, throwing just 83 IP. As long as he manages to keep the game low-scoring and close, he’ll get a longer leash tonight, which will fortunately keep us away from relying on the infamously bad KBO bullpens. In terms of more advanced analytics, Jokisch’s hot start is supported by a terrific 2.37 FIP, in addition to a strong K% of 21.4 and an otherworldly 1.24 BB/9. It is extremely encouraging that this has come against a mixed bag of teams, and though he hasn’t yet had to face Doosan or NC, KT and LG (and Kia) are no slouches, and he’s dominated all three of them. His home and away splits are practically identical, so there’s not much to worry about in terms of regression there, particularly without fans involved in any capacity. I’m really encouraged with what he did against Samsung a month ago, and what he’s done in every start since. Combine that with the clear advantage the Kiwoom hitters have over Samsung’s Baek, and we’ve got a great pick on our hands here.

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

Game Plays:

1: Kiwoom -1.5 (-160) 3U

2: Kiwoom TT OV 6 (-120) 2U

3: Kiwoom 1H -1 (-145) 2U

4: Samsung TT UN 3.5 (-110) 1U

 

 

QUICK HITTERS FOR TWO GAMES

KT Wiz (vs Kia Tigers)

SP: Min Kim

            2019 ERA: 4.96

            2020 Stats: 7.83 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 23 IP, 26 H, 14 K, 16 BB

Of all the terrible statlines on the slates the past two nights, this may be one of the worst. Kim has been bad on every front. His BB/9 is an obscene 6.26, his K% is a miniscule 12.4, his FIP is 7.13, and he’s giving up more than a hit per inning, on average. While he has managed not to give up much extra-base contact, which has probably saved a few runs on his ERA, his command has been an unmitigated disaster, and you simply can’t survive in the KBO walking or hitting a batter nearly every inning, combined with allowing more than a hit per inning. Although the Kia offense has been inconsistent, they’ve shown flashes of promise, and should be able to knock at least 3 runs across the board against Kim, which sets the stage for the worst bullpen in the KBO to have to work through the rest of the game (including the ninth, since the Tigers are on the road). Even if Kim manages to last 5 or 6 innings, I find it extremely unlikely that he escapes with less than 3-4 runs given up, and it’s equally possible that he lasts less than four innings and Kia hits their team total (5.5) in the early goings. It has no doubt been frustrating to watch the Tigers this year, but they finally get a dream matchup, and as long as they don’t waste too many opportunities, and convert around the ferocious Preston Tucker in the middle of their lineup, they should be able to scratch 6+ runs across the board.

Game Plays:

1: Kia TT OV 5.5 (-115) 1U

 

 

LG Twins (vs SK Wyverns):

SP: Min-ho Lee

            2019 ERA: N/A

            2020 Stats: 1.10 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 9 H, 9 K, 6 BB

It was hard to know what to make of the 18-year-old at first, but Lee has really come out strong this year as a new starter for the Twins, combining for 12.1 IP / 2 ER / 9 K in his two starts. He has struggled with command, walking six over those twelve innings, but looked good in a 3-inning relief appearance against Doosan where he walked none over 3 IP. It looks like LG is now committing to put him on a more consistent spot in the starting rotation, which makes sense given his success in the role. They extended him up to 100 pitches last week, which is really encouraging since last night’s game ran into extra innings, so both squads will be down a relief pitcher or two. Lee was a top prospect in high school, and breaks the mold of typical KBO arms who work in the 80s. He was up in the mid 90s as just a 17-year-old, and was LG’s first pick in the draft, so he has the kind of stuff that can dominate, as long as the command comes with it. He’s got another relatively favorable matchup with SK tonight, a team that has struggled significantly against good pitching and doesn’t possess much power. There obviously isn’t much data on Lee in such a short sample size, but I’m really encouraged by his demeanor and pitchability in a league without many power arms.

Game Plays:

1: SK TT UN 4.5 (-135) 1U


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