JP's KBO June 16 - 17 Writeup
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JP's KBO June 16 - 17 Writeup

JP
06-16-2020

JP’s KBO Writeup – June 16 - 17                                                                  twitter: @jpbattingprac

 

Following last night’s sequence of bullpen implosions, this slate lacks any kind of elite starting pitching and is fairly shrouded in uncertainty. That can be disconcerting, but means that there will be angles that some can find and others don’t. There’s some good pitching and some really bad pitching, and I’m going to work through several of the games to discuss where I see things playing out tonight. I’ll save some length on the intro and dive right in.

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OVERALL RECORD: +74.83U (125-89-6) – $100 bettor up $7,483

Record on 4U MAX Plays: 5-1 (+14.4U)

Record on 3U Plays: 24-7-1 (+43.45U)

Record on 2.5U Plays: 3-7 (-11.37U)

Record on 2U Plays: 48-26-4 (+30.2U)

Record on 1U Plays: 37-33-1 (-2.50U)

Record on .5U Plays (nearly all +200 or greater): 8-13 (+1.35U)

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G1: Kiwoom Heroes (-215) VS Lotte Giants (+160) O/U 10

Heroes:

SP: Won-tae Choi

            2019 ERA: 3.38

            2020 Stats: 4.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 39 IP, 38 H, 26 K, 6 BB

Choi is an example of a KBO pitcher who’s consistently solid, but rarely elite. He had a very good 2019 in the form of a 3.38 ERA backed up by a 3.23 FIP, but has dropped off a little bit this season, following a 4.38 ERA with a 4.52 FIP, though those two numbers are tainted by a terrible start vs Samsung in his last time out. His control is consistently excellent, and with a 1.38 BB/9, he’s making teams earn absolutely everything. The last time he faced Lotte was back in late May, where he put forward an outstanding start to the tune of 6 IP / 5 H / 1 ER. Crazily enough, he hasn’t walked a single batter since May 19th vs SK, which points to how historically good his command has been overall. That being said, he’s struggled to limit power in his last few outings, giving up 5 HR over the past 18 IP, a concerningly high rate, though that’s probably due for serious positive regression, since he allowed a stunningly low 0.29 HR/9 last season. Choi is in a perfect spot here to bounce back and limit Lotte offensively, but Choi hasn’t had a scoreless outing the entire season, so I could see them putting a few on the board by the time Choi leaves, likely around the seventh inning. They won’t score a ton of runs, and Kiwoom has a very solid bullpen, but Kiwoom -215 seems way steep for this kind of game. Let’s check out the other side.

Giants:

SP: Jun-won Seo

            2019 ERA: 5.47

            2020 Stats: 3.72 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 38.2 IP, 41 H, 18 K, 12 BB

While Seo’s season has included a few bumps at the beginning of the season, it looks like he’s turned a serious corner in his path as a KBO starter. Since a two-outing stretch where he was rocked by Doosan and Kia (16 H / 12 ER in 9 IP), He’s allowed a combined 4 ER over his subsequent 24.2 IP, including starts vs Doosan, KT, and Kiwoom, three of the better-hitting teams in the league. The 19-year-old is confident in his stuff and Lotte has a ton of faith in him, as he picked up a $300,000 signing bonus in the 2019 regional draft, ranking as one of the higher monetary amounts given to any prospect. His start against Kiwoom was perhaps his best of the season, as he absolutely stifled the Eagles for just three hits over 6.2 scoreless IP, striking out four and walking just one. Seo has had an unbelievably difficult stretch of teams to face, as he’s seen Doosan and KT twice, Kia once, and he’ll see Kiwoom for the second time tonight; in fact, the only squad he’s faced outside the top-five in offense was Hanwha, who he locked down for five scoreless innings. Though Lotte has been fairly tight on a 90-pitch restriction for Seo, unsurprising as they attempt to preserve the young righty’s arm, they relaxed that to 101 in his dominant outing vs the Heroes three weeks ago. Pitching on the road doesn’t seem to bother Seo much, as other than that disastrous outing vs Kia, he’s stifled KT and Doosan to just a combined 1 ER over 12 IP. Perhaps if there was a raucous crowd I’d be scared off by the environment, but without fans or artificial crowd noise, home-field advantage just isn’t the same. There are a lot of positives here, it’s important to recognize a few concerning aspects, too: his command can be at times erratic, he doesn’t strike out many hitters, and he can at times be susceptible to the long ball (all contributing to a FIP of 5.82, obviously far worse than his ERA). That being said, it is possible that those concerns are inflated by small sample size. He’s walked four batters in two of his seven starts, but no more than one in any of the others; he’s had a start of 2 HRs and a start of 3 HRs, but allowed just one total the rest of the season, and even in the start where he gave up two long-balls he still put up 6 IP and 3 ER, which isn’t a bad start at all. So, with that all being said, my conclusion on Seo is that he really can pitch, and tonight’s game will be a tight pitcher’s duel, rather than the easy win Kiwoom -215 suggests. The lines in this game demonstrate very clearly that sportsbooks don’t trust Seo, and think Kiwoom will win this in a blowout. Not only do I disagree with that assessment of Seo, I think Kiwoom is overrated as a hitting team, and our young righty will hang in there very nicely. Honestly, the only reason this game isn’t a 4U max banger is that these bullpens are so unpredictable, but Lotte and Kiwoom have two of the better pens available in the league, so at some you have to roll with a play you like and trust them.

Game Plays:

1: UN 10 (-105) 2U

2: 1H UN 5.5 (-110) 2U

3: Lotte TT UN 4 (-120) 2U

4: Kiwoom TT UN 6 (-120) 2U

5: Lotte +1.5 (+100) 1U

6: Lotte ML (+160) .5U

 

G2: SK Wyverns (-120) VS KT Wiz (+100) O/U 10.5

Wyverns:

SP: Tae-hoon Kim

            2019 ERA: 3.88

            2020 Stats: 4.91 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 33 IP, 22 H, 19 K, 20 BB

Kim has always had severe command issues, but in the past compensated for that with a strong strikeout rate (above 23% each of the last two years). This season, he’s trended in the exact opposite direction, getting worse with his command (a horrifying 5.45 BB/9) and striking out fewer hitters (down to K% at 13.8%). The only thing keeping him afloat is a .213 BABIP, which is laughably low for someone who doesn’t have great stuff and isn’t even in the top-10 in the KBO in soft-contact %. As his FIP of 5.30 would suggest, his counting stats extremely likely to get much worse, and we’ve already seen that regression beginning to take place, as he struggled through five really, really ugly innings against LG in his last start, and was blown up by NC in the one before that. Now, he gets a KT team that is finally at full-hitting strength, which I believe makes them a top-three hitting team in the KBO (after NC/Doosan, though an argument could certainly be made that LG could claim the three spot). I love the Wiz to absolutely explode in this spot – if you remember a few weeks ago, KT went through a torrid stretch where they destroyed a sequence of pitchers with command issues, and this matchup with Kim brings back those memories. In his last two starts, Kim has given up 8 hits, 10 ER, and 9 BB, striking out just 3 in the process (he also hit 2 in that stretch). He’s clearly struggling with something command-related, and that kind of issue isn’t one that just suddenly solves itself in the middle of the season, especially against one of the best teams in the league. Having used four relievers last night, SK is in a terrible position to follow Kim out of the pen, so they might be forced to hang him out there to dry, which would be terrific for KT especially since his command should falter further down the stretch. Whether the Wiz get four rotations through the order against Kim, or see some lower-end arms out of the pen, this is a spot they should thrive in.

Wiz:

SP: Byung-wook Jo

            2019 ERA: 2.45 (sample size composed of 7.1 IP in the Futures League)

            2020 Stats KBO: 4.50 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 2 IP, 4 H, 0 K, 0 BB

            2020 Stats Futures League: 6.17 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 11 H, 9 K, 4 BB

Jo hasn’t thrown more than 13 innings in a season since 2018 – when he threw 16.2 – and has looked absolutely awful this season both in the Futures League and the KBO. We’ll start with some analysis of his Futures League appearances. He started three games, and they were all disasters. He allowed 8 ER in 10 IP, walking a hitter in every start and averaging more than hit per inning. Following that failed experiment, he was moved to the bullpen and faced just 6 hitters from May 27th to June 4th, when it appears he may have been brought to the KBO level to help fill out the back end of a horrendous pitching staff. His only appearance since then came in a 2-inning stint on June 10th, when he was the last KT pitcher to appear in a 10-0 blowout loss. Jo looked like his extremely hittable self in that game, allowing 4 hits and 1 ER to Kia’s backups over 2 IP. Now, whether out of pure desperation, delusional faith, or some kind of belief in a miracle, he’s getting the start tonight against SK. I’m guessing it’s neither of the latter two, and I had heard some other names being tossed around as KT’s potential starter tonight (including a lefty who has neither pitched in the KBO since 2019 nor appeared in a Futures League game this season), so I wouldn’t be shocked to see him used as a sort of opener for a longer bullpen game. That being said, even that strategy sounds pretty horrible to me; like SK, KT used four relievers in a close game, meaning they probably already burned their “high-end” arms, leaving the rest of the worst bullpen in the KBO to figure this game out. I’m extremely hopeful they either ride with Jo and watch him get shellacked or follow him with a lefty out of the pen (SK has 8 right-handed batters starting, so the platoon advantage on the hitting side is dreamy). Honestly, I’m not sure it matters what they do. They’ve given every pitcher in that bullpen an opportunity this season, and no one has even resembled competence. This is a game that can, and should, get extremely ugly, take four hours to complete, and be a joy for the over.

Game Plays:

1: OV 10 (-130; BOUGHT DOWN FROM 10.5) 4U MAX

2: KT TT OV 5 (-120) 3U

3: SK TT OV 5 (-110) 2U

4: 1H OV 6 (-105) 1U

 

One more OFFICIAL play (not doing a full writeup but I’ve done the research):

1: Kia TT OV 4 (-105) 2U

 

Here are a few additional LEANS (NOT OFFICIAL) for those so inclined to follow; they’re approximately the value of 1U plays, but I don’t want to go too hard on this slate tonight. Feel free to tail, fade, ignore, follow, etc – up to you!

 

1: Samsung / Doosan 1H UN 5.5 (-120)

2: Doosan TT UN 5.5 (-110)

3: Kia +2 (-120)


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