KBO Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Thursday 5/28/20

Casey Kelly has struggled in the KBO early this year but gets a much softer matchup on Thursday. Who else should we target for KBO DFS on FanDuel?

Thursday morning's KBO DFS slate is primed to be a delicate dance.

We have several different factors we have to navigate if we're going to correctly diagnose the slate. The first is that we're dealing with small samples for everyone right now with roughly 20 games in the books, making it tough to judge hitters and pitchers alike. With how much individuals and rosters can change in a year, we want the most recent sample we can get; that recent sample just isn't overly robust.

Second, injuries across the KBO have filtered new players into the rotation. Four of the 10 starters on the slate are making their first 2020 start in the KBO, forcing us to either lean on old data or do some guesswork. Neither route is overly appealing.

The only positive here is that our opponents are dealing with the same issues, so we're not alone in this struggle. There's still an edge to be had here if we can guess right and pinpoint the optimal plays. So let's try to do exactly that.

Here's a list of the starters on Thursday's slate, sorted by the salary of their starting pitcher slot on FanDuel. All individual stats come from the opening few starts of 2020. The opponent numbers are also from 2020 with the runs-per-game totals coming via My KBO Stats and the strikeout rates via Baseball Reference. The park factor numbers are via STATIZ with 1000 being neutral and a higher number favoring hitters.

Pitcher Salary L/R Opp. ERA WHIP K% BB% HR% Opp. R/G Opp. K% Park
Hyun-jong Yang
$29 L @KT 3.43 1.14 19.0% 7.1% 3.6% 6.58 16.8% 973
Warwick Saupold
$26 R LG 2.25 0.96 13.8% 5.5% 0.9% 6.00 17.4% 978
Young-gyu Kim
$24 L KIW 3.94 1.19 18.8% 1.6% 9.4% 5.15 20.2% 1012
Casey Kelly
$23 R @HAN 5.79 1.50 15.9% 4.8% 0.0% 3.65 18.8% 978
Dae-hyun Jung
$23 L @NC -- -- -- -- -- 6.32 19.2% 1012
Hyeong-jun So
$22 R KIA 6.48 1.56 7.9% 3.9% 1.3% 4.60 17.5% 973
Geon-wook Lee
$22 R @DOO -- -- -- -- -- 6.63 15.5% 959
Yong-chan Lee
$21 R SK 10.34 1.85 12.0% 6.7% 5.3% 3.53 20.2% 959
Adrian Sampson
$21 R SAM -- -- -- -- -- 5.00 18.2% 1022
Yoon-dong Heo
$20 L @LOT -- -- -- -- -- 4.53 17.4% 1022

This will be the KBO debut for Adrian Sampson. It's worth noting, though, that Sampson will be limited to 50 pitches, according to Daniel Kim, meaning we are best suited avoiding him for the time being. With that in mind, who stands out once we account for all the unknown variables? Here's a rundown of the offering, starting with the pitchers.


Despite being the most expensive pitcher on the slate, Hyun-jong Yang (Kia Starting P; $29) has a case as the top option for DFS. He has been good to open 2020, and he is coming off a season in which he had a 22.2% strikeout rate. That's an ideal combo that comes with a rare level of certainty.

Unfortunately, Yang is facing the KT Wiz, who have averaged 6.58 runs per game this year while striking out just 16.8% of the time. It's a tough matchup, and we don't want to deal with that when we're paying $29. Yang isn't out of play, but we are likely wise hopping down and saving a bit of salary.

Instead, we can focus on Young-gyu Kim (NC Starting P; $24). This is Kim's age-20 season, and he has started it in impressive fashion with a 3.94 ERA and 18.8% strikeout rate across three starts. Kim has a tough matchup with the Kiwoom Heroes, but Kiwoom's 20.2% strikeout rate is tied for the highest in the league thus far. Kim is a high-upside, low-floor play best suited for tournaments.

If you're looking for a more palatable floor, then Casey Kelly (LG Starting P; $23) is likely your best option.

Touting a high floor on Kelly likely seems strange when you see his 5.79 ERA this year. However, that's across three starts that have come versus NC, Kiwoom, and KT. Those three teams are third, fifth, and second, respectively in runs per game early in 2020. Today, Kelly gets the Hanwha Eagles, who are ninth in runs per game and have the third highest strikeout rate.

Kelly was lights out last year with a 2.55 ERA. The only downside is that he doesn't carry a massive strikeout ceiling as his strikeout rate there was just 16.9%. That's why we should lean toward Kim for the upside and Kelly if we want additional safety.


Our top pitching options for the slate aren't all that expensive, giving us the ability to spend up on hitters if we so choose. That puts the NC Dinos within our stacking crosshairs.

NC is facing Dae-hyun Jung, who is making his first KBO appearance of any kind since 2017. That year, Jung had a 7.06 ERA, putting his career mark at 6.63 across 363 2/3 innings. We don't know what Jung will look like in 2020, but if it resembles past performance, NC will be in a good spot.

Jung is a lefty, meaning our best approximation of NC's lineup will come from their game on Tuesday. In that game, Suk-Min Park ($10) hit fifth. Park has four homers to open the year with a .510 slugging percentage. He is a risk to leave the game early once the lefty is gone, but there's upside in Park. Ideally, using him will allow you to spend up for Sung-Bum Na ($15) and Eui-Ji Yang ($13), the two main stud bats in this lineup. Na -- who is also left-handed -- hit a double off a lefty on Tuesday, and Yang just returned from a neck injury for Wednesday's game.

Our second stack is an offense that has struggled of late. The Lotte Giants haven't scored more than four runs in almost a week, and they haven't surpassed two since Saturday. The hope here is that a matchup with a youngster will wake the bats.

Lotte is going up against Yoon-dong Heo, who is making his KBO debut. Heo is just 18, which could mean that he is a supreme talent ready to bust on the scene. But given the league's talent level, it's probably fair to assume he'll struggle out of the gate at such a young age.

Heo is another lefty, pushing us back to Tuesday again to decipher what the Lotte lineup will look like. Byung-Hun Min ($11) hit leadoff there and seems a bit undervalued. Min hasn't lit the world on fire this year, but he also hasn't been bad, and he's coming off a year in which he had a .304/.382/.453 slash. Min's a great place to start within this stack with Jun-Woo Jeon ($14) being the top stud and Dae-Ho Lee ($11) as another righty who could benefit from the platoon advantage.

Our third and final stack is another team squaring off with a newcomer. Hyeong-jun So is just 18 years old and three starts into his KBO career, and he has struck out a slate-low 7.9% of his opponents this year. That allows us to check out the Kia Tigers' offense.

Because there's value at both hitter and pitcher, getting up to Preston Tucker ($16) shouldn't be all that difficult. Tucker has lit the KBO on fire thus far with a .347/.424/.653 slash through 85 plate appearances, so Kia stacks almost have to include Tucker. If you need help getting up to Tucker, players like Sun-Bin Kim ($9) and Chan-Ho Park ($9) have paths to upside and come with bargain-bin salaries.