JP's KBO July 14 - 15 Writeup
Welcome to another slate of KBO!!!! This is a big itinerary, with a perhaps surprising pick to lead us off. Will we really be fading the team that's made us so much money? You'll see... Enjoy!!!
G1: Kiwoom Heroes (-205) VS NC Dinos (+140) O/U 9.5
SP: Eric Jokisch
2019 ERA: 3.13
2020 Stats: 1.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 76.1 IP, 58 H, 54 K, 10 BB
Jokisch has been nothing short of incredible this season, and the stats reflect the degree of dominance he’s exuded practically every time he’s stepped on the mound. Only once this entire season did Jokisch allow more than 3 runs in a start, which ironically came against the worst team he faced, Hanwha (back on June 4th). Since then, he’s averaged exactly 1 run/start, pitching against Samsung twice, SK, Kia, and KT, not the highest end of teams, but not the worst. That is one criticism of Jokisch – is a light schedule cause for concern against a team like the Dinos? Maybe in a world where the Dinos are rolling and have a fully healthy lineup, but with their best hitter and potential Major Leaguer Na-sung Bum on the IL due to a wrist injury, the lineup has been forced to undergo a major reshuffle. The results so far have been scores of 6 and 1, and I would urge caution on the game with 6, where NC scored half their runs on an 8th-inning bomb off one of LG’s worst relievers, looking relatively punchless the other 11 out of 12 innings against some subpar pitching. Last night, they looked downright lost against Jake Brigham, who was making his first KBO start in two months, as well as the rest of the Kiwoom pen, which no-hit the Dinos over the last four innings of the game. Each of these relievers will be available in full again today, as none of them topped 16 pitches, including Kiwoom’s dynamic setup man/closer duo throwing 11 each (and striking out four Dinos). All this being said, Jokisch may be catching NC at just the right time, and his 13 shutout innings against KT (including 13 K’s) demonstrate that he can not only pitch, but dominate, the top bats in the league. Without having to worry about the anchor Bum in the 3-hole, Jokisch should be able to find success against an NC lineup where only one hitter has had more than 40 at-bats against left-handed pitching. This is a big test not only for Jokisch, but for Kiwoom as a whole, as this series carries crucial repercussions in the hunt for the KBO regular season title.
SP: Sung-young Choi
2019 ERA: 3.94
2020 Stats: 5.16 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 30 H, 13 K, 12 BB
To put it simply, Choi’s 2020 season has been an analytical disaster. The counting stats are bad right off the bat (a 5.16 ERA never won anyone over), but the peripherals for the lefty are even worse. He’s currently sitting at a 7.18 FIP, which is ridiculously bad for someone with that many innings. Honestly, it really doesn’t surprise me – his K% is an anemic 10.2%, BB/9 is a significantly subpar 3.64, and he has given up an XBH in nearly half his innings (13 over 29 IP), meaning he’s seeing a ton of hard contact. You may look at his schedule and see Doosan twice, and think that he’s just had a hard run of things and is due for some positive regression. I would say the exact opposite, and purport that his schedule has actually been relatively easy. Doosan against lefties is nothing more than a slightly above-average squad, Kia is far below-average against lefties, and SK is one of the worst offensive teams in the league against anyone. Those are his five starts, and the fact that he has both allowed 3 or more ER in all but one start and failed to impress any other analytics suggests to me that Choi is likely not a long-term fit in the Dinos rotation. Predictably, the combination of a high walk-rate and high hard-contact rate has the potential to become disastrous, and against a Kiwoom team that excels against left-handed pitching (.445 SLG/.176 ISO both rank well above average in the KBO), enough traffic on the basepaths is inevitably going to result in a parade of runs. Choi is going to need to BABIP his way into a good start, and I just don’t believe that he’ll have the command nor the luck to work his way out of the several jams he’s likely to get into. Combine this with the fact that Kiwoom has their best arm on the mound and we’ve got a perfect spot for the Heroes to jump out in front and ride their ace to a comfortable win over a really good team.
1: Kiwoom -1.5 (+110) 4U MAX
2: Kiwoom 1H -0.5 (-145) 2U
3: Kiwoom TT OV 5.5 (-115) 1U
4: Kiwoom 1st Inning ML (+200) .5U
G2: KT Wiz (-275) VS Hanwha Eagles (+205) O/U 10.5
SP: Min-soo Kim
2019 ERA: 4.96
2020 Stats: 5.73 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 37.2 IP, 57 H, 20 K, 12 BB
If you looked at Kim’s stats right off the bat, you’d probably have to be insane to consider him a legit arm to bet on. And maybe I am insane, but I’m finding some value here, particularly with the obvious in that the matchup is against a terrible Hanwha offense that just can’t hit for power with any kind of consistency. And, believe it or not, but limiting power is what Kim does best. He’s allowed just 9 XBH in 37.2 IP, and his FIP is nearly a full point lower than his ERA at 4.93 (it was 4.76 last year, likewise lower than his ERA). 4.93 isn’t anything to write home about, but I think there’s some positive takeaways here. The aforementioned ability to limit power is one, and combine that with his well above-average command (2.87 BB/9), and we’ve got a guy that is sneaky compelling against Hanwha. Looking at his six starts, Kim took the ball against Lotte, Kia, SK, NC, LG, and Kiwoom, and actually got better over time despite facing far better teams. In fact, after two below average outings, Kim went on to post the following line against a combination of SK/NC/LG/Kiwoom: 21.1 IP / 2.96 ERA / 1.55 WHIP. Yeah, the WHIP is still bad and he’s giving up too many hits, but giving up a touch more than a hit/inning against NC, LG, and Kiwoom isn’t anything out of the ordinary, and he actually put up some really good efforts in all of them. Now, Kim draws his easiest matchup of the season, and while I don’t expect 7 scoreless innings, I think he’s doing to do a very solid job keeping KT in the game and likely out in front. This is as much a bet on Kim’s positive regression as Hanwha’s inability to hit the ball hard, and it’s very feasible that a combination of decent command, limited hard contact, and fortunately placed batted balls creates a scenario where Kim gives up 6 solid innings.
SP: Bum-soo Kim
2019 ERA: 5.68
2020 Stats: 3.95 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 41 IP, 35 H, 36 K, 27 BB
The regression bug finally caught up to Kim in his last start, as his 5.84 FIP showed up in a start where he was hit pretty hard by Lotte for 4 runs over 6 IP, including two home runs. Kim had been on a pretty solid stretch, having thrown well against Doosan (twice) and Samsung, mixing in a stinker vs NC. I think a huge part of this is his platoon split advantage – Doosan regularly starts 6-7 lefties, and Samsung runs out around 4 on any given day. On the other hand, KT is a team built around a power-righty core with two lefties that are still elite left-on-left, with their leadoff sitting at a batting average of .382 against lefties and cleanup (the ferocious Baek-ho Kang) ripping off a .471 SLG/.206 ISO against lefties, which would make him one of the best hitters in the league (his statline against righties is downright ridiculous). With their seven righties and flexible two lefties, KT has had tremendous success vs left-handed pitching this year, and against a guy with clear command issues (5.93 BB/9!!!) who has dominated lefties (.333 SLG/.143 ISO) but gotten crushed by righties (.494 SLG/.233 ISO), they’re perfectly set up for success. Hanwha’s best relievers are left-handed as well, and if they have to go to the pen early, KT could make a mess out of this game quickly. KT beat down on Warwick Saupold last night, who is unquestionably a better pitcher than Kim, and I think that with the right combination of errant control and hard-hit balls, they could score 4+ in the early going and cruise comfortably into another easy win.
1: KT TT OV 5.5 (-145) 3U
2: KT -1.5 (-125) 3U
3: 1st Inning OV 0.5 (-165) 1U
4: KT 1st Inning ML (+185) .5U
1: SK TT UN 3.5 (-135) 2U
2: Doosan 1H -1 (-155) 1U
3: Doosan -1.5 (-145) 1U