KBO Odds, Picks, Predictions & Betting Model (Tuesday, May 12): Should You Bet the KT Wiz as Underdogs vs. NC Dinos?
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images. Pictured: Chung Soo-bin
- The latest KBO odds make the KT Wiz slight underdogs (odds: +118) against the NC Dinos in a game that gets underway at 5:30 a.m. ET.
- The Wiz have a 1-4 record this season, while the Dinos sit at 4-1, so the line makes sense on the surface.
- Sean Zerillo digs into his KBO betting model to find picks offering value, including two bets on Wiz vs. Dinos.
Through one week of KBO action, run-scoring (10.86 runs per game) is back up 19%, and closer to 2017 (10.66) or 2018 (11.1) levels than the de-juiced 2019 environment (9.1), as home run rates have also seen a noticeable bounce.
The rate of home runs per nine innings (HR/9) stood at 1.1 in 2017 and 1.2 in 2018, before dropping more than 40%, to 0.7, with a different baseball last season. In a very small 2020 sample, the HR/9 rate is back up to 1.1.
Did the KBO re-introduce the old ball this season in an effort to attract more eyeballs from an international audience?
There are many other potential factors to consider, including a disrupted and shortened spring training potentially giving hitters the early advantage as pitchers take longer to round into form, backed up by fielders who are ever-so-slightly out of shape and making 95% of the plays that they otherwise would have — and will — in the middle of the season.
Teams could also be using more mop-up pitchers late in games, in a concerted effort to let their better arms stretch out as the season continues.
Additionally, the weather is warmer in May than it normally would be at the start of the KBO season in April — and we have only seen games played at half of the league parks — so perhaps all of these factors are contributing to a big start for the offenses.
Pitchers have experienced very slight regression in strikeout (-0.3%) and walk (+0.2%) rates thus far, and are also allowing hits slightly more often (+0.4%) while recording double plays less often (down -0.14 per game, to 0.79).
It’s not super indicative, but errors are down (-0.12 per game, to 0.57), fielding percentage is slightly up (+.003), and base stealers are getting thrown out 7% less often than in either of the past two seasons (from 31% to 38%).
Again, these are extremely small samples, but it is worth keeping an eye on all of these things, including both run-scoring and home run rates in particular if you plan on betting KBO baseball.
- KBO Year to Date: 9-10 (+1.18 Units)
- CPBL Year to Date: 25-18 (+6.04 Units)
KBO Odds, Picks, Predictions & Betting Model
KT Wiz vs. NC Dinos
- Wiz moneyline: +118
- Dinos moneyline: -150
- Over/under: 8
- Time: 5:30 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- BET NOW
Probable Pitchers: Odrisamer Despaigne (Wiz) vs. Drew Rucinski (Dinos)
Tuesday morning’s ESPN game is fascinating from a betting perspective because I feel like I have a pretty good handle on Dinos starter Drew Rucinski, a 31-year-old righty who pitched in 41 games for the Angels, Marlins and Twins (4.80 xFIP) before pitching to a 3.05 ERA (3.92 FIP) over 30 starts and 177 innings in the KBO last year.
Rucinski offered improved velocity (93.6 mph) near the end of his MLB tenure while relying more heavily on his cutter and splitter over his final two seasons.
Both offerings looked sharp in his opening day start (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K) against the Lions:
However, the Lions had the KBO’s least potent offense (64.4 wRC+) while the upstart Wiz led the league (123 wRC+) in 2019 and rank third, with 6.6 runs scored per game, through the first week of 2020.
The KBO’s youngest club has a very strong offense, led by Mel Rojas Jr. (165.5 wRC+, 6.2 WAR in 2019), one of the KBO’s highest-paid players, Jae-gyun Hwang (125 wRC+ in 2019), who played 18 games for the San Francisco Giants in 2017, and 20-year-old Baek-Ho Kang, who broke the KBO rookie record with 29 homers in 2018, before hitting .336 with a 150 WRC+ in his sophomore campaign.
At 20 years old, Kang has the look of a future MLB bat — though I do have concerns about his defense at the highest level:
— KBO Collections (@kbocollections) May 10, 2020
But to get back to why this game is so interesting from a betting perspective — on Tuesday, the Wiz will start their biggest offseason acquisition, Odrisaimer Despaigne, who pitched to a 4.71 xFIP over 109 MLB games and 50 starts.
Now, whatever your opinion of Despaigne — and believe me, I loved to bet against the Cuban junkballer during his MLB days, with his career marks of 5.22 K/9 and 3.22 B/9 — he had significantly more starting experience and better overall metrics than Rucinski at the MLB level.
Despaigne offers comparable velocity to Rucinski, and also throws a lot of different pitch types, but only his fastball, sinker and cutter returned positive pitch values against MLB hitters.
Despaigne looked really solid in his KBO debut against the undefeated Lotte Giants (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K) before, and this has become a theme, the Wiz bullpen blew the game.
But those three pitches can prove really effective against KBO hitters, and if the home run rate is going back up, Despaigne (0.89 HR/9) would thrive with that sinker:
If you view Despaigne and Rucinski about the same, the game is around a pick’em favoring the Dinos.
If you think Rucinski is better than Despaigne, the Dinos should be clearly favored, and the line is about right.
But if you project, as I do, that Despaigne will perform as a slightly higher-quality KBO pitcher than Rucinski — who was a bit lucky in 2019 — the Wiz should be slight road favorites, and there’s clear value on them as underdogs.
I bet the Wiz at +122 (implied 45%), a 5.7% edge compared to my projection at 50.7%, and I would play them down to +120. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.
I assume that the total is slightly reduced due to the presence of two former MLB hurlers.
The Wiz were the top offense in the KBO last season, while the Dinos (100.6 wRC+) lineup was league average, but they do lead the league with 7.4 runs per game after one week — and could be the most improved team this year.
The bullpens for both clubs have also been struggling, particularly the Wiz, choking away leads after hot starts from their offenses.
If you have access to live totals, consider betting an over once the relievers start getting warmed up for these teams.
For pregame wagering, I projected the total at 10 runs, bet Over 8.5 (-109) at a 5.9% edge, and would play that to -115, a 4.5% edge.
And note that, the less that you like Despaigne for the Wiz, the more value there would be in betting the Over, as opposed to the Wiz moneyline, in this spot.
KT Wiz vs. NC Dinos Picks
- KT Wiz +122 (1 unit)
- Wiz/Dinos, Over 8.5 (-109, 0.5 units)
Around the KBO and CPBL
The sharp total that I apparently missed the boat on was Doosan Bears vs. Lotte Giants, Over 9.5.
I projected that game for 10.9 runs and was willing to bet Over 9.5 (-115), but it was already up to Over 9.5 (-120) by the time I refreshed my screen and is now as high as 10.5 at the time of writing. Look for potential fireworks in that matchup.
The only other KBO sides that seem likely to come into play are the Hanwha Eagles at anything over +150 (a 5.4% edge), or the Lotte Giants at anything over +190 (a 5.5% edge).
In the CPBL, I don’t have any interest in betting the Lions with Donn Roach (12 K, 7 B, 24 runs, 4 HR allowed in 20 IP) facing the Monkeys at virtually any price below +250 (implied 28.5%). My projection is higher on the Lions, but the projection has not watched Roach face the best offense in the CPBL — and this could be a massacre.
I would only consider blindly betting Over 8 on a Monkeys team total, which would technically be a -EV play by my projections — but true expected value means little in the wild and wacky CPBL, where run-scoring is up 22% to 13.4 runs per game this season.
Full KBO Betting Card for May 12
- KT Wiz +122 (1 unit)
- Wiz/Dinos, Over 8.5 (-109, 0.5 units)
- Hanwha Eagles +150 (1 unit)
- SK Wyverns +108 (0.5 units)
KBO Year to Date: 9-10 (+1.18 Units)
Full CPBL Betting Card for May 12
CPBL Year to Date: 25-18 (+6.04 Units)
Zerillo’s Full KBO + CPBL Model, 5/12
Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover the full game moneylines and over/unders. A sample of one of the sheets is below: