KBO Picks, Odds, Predictions & Betting Model (Saturday, May 16): Can Tigers’ Ace Yang Shut Down the Bears?

Credit:

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images. Pictured: Doosan bears players practice ahead of a KBO game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium.

May 15, 2020, 01:59 PM EDT

We turned a two-unit profit on Friday despite a 3-3 record, losing the Guardians’ moneyline and the under on that game by one run in the CPBL. At the same time, SK Wyverns forced extra-innings in the KBO before losing, once again, after stranding the winning run on second base with one out in the ninth inning.

The Wyverns were lucky just to be in that game, however — so a comeback win would have been a real shocker — and I went 2-1 on Friday in true moneyline coin flips (1-0 in KBO with the Eagles, 1-1 in the CPBL), so there are no complaints on my end.

When there’s a lot of value on the board, you cannot be gun shy and pass some of it up without justification, particularly amid a losing streak.

I’m OK with having no plays, I’m OK with having two plays, and I’m OK (though slightly uncomfortable) with playing the entire board on any given day. Show me the value, and I’ll search and wait for the best number. Unless there’s something that I know the model cannot account for, I’ll always play the percentages.

Take the Eagles-Giants game on Friday, for instance. These two teams finished at the bottom of the 2019 KBO standings and, before this season, were projected as the two worst teams again for 2020.

In a sport where even the worst teams win 33% of the time — aren’t the Eagles more than 33% likely (implied odds of +200) to beat the Giants on any given night at home, no matter the pitching mismatch? The Giants are off to a surprisingly good start, but Friday’s line got out of control for an Eagles team who has seemingly made every game close.

And at some point, you always need to push back with a big underdog because the risk is worth the reward.

If you are looking for more information about the KBO League, check out my season primer. If you want to know more about Taiwan’s CPBL, you can find that here.

  • KBO Year to Date: 12-19 (-3.8 Units)
  • CPBL Year to Date: 27-20 (+6.47 Units)

Odds as of Friday at 2 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


KBO Odds, Picks, Predictions & Betting Model

Doosan Bears vs. KIA Tigers

  • Bears moneyline: -134
  • Tigers moneyline: +106
  • Over/under: 9.5
  • Time: 4:00 a.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
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Probable Pitchers: Yong-chan Lee (Bears) vs. Hyun-jong Yang (Tigers)

The Bears offense remained hot on Friday with 13 runs, and they have now scored at least seven runs in five consecutive games, and six of their past seven, while averaging 9.3 runs per game over that stretch.

On Saturday, they’ll face likely the best domestic pitcher in the KBO in Hyun-jong Yang — the 2017 KBO MVP and 2019 FIP leader (2.58) who has had a lot of success against the Bears in recent seasons.

He faced Doosan twice last year, pitching seven innings in each game while allowing three runs and three walks against 14 strikeouts.

In eight starts against the Bears since August of 2016, Yang is 5-3 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, and a 45:14 strikeout to walk ratio over 52.1 innings (6.5 innings per start); pitching six of those starts using a juiced baseball.

The southpaw offers average fastball velocity, with a sharp slider, slow 12-6 curveball, and fringy changeup. He has improved his command in recent seasons but also hasn’t been at his best to start the 2020 campaign (9 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 BB, 4 K).

I anticipate that the Tigers may be listed as an underdog to the reigning champs, especially given the Bears’ current hot streak — and I’m willing to bet that Yang will be at his best on Saturday:

His opponent, 31-year-old righty Yong-chan Lee, transitioned from a bullpen role after a solid 2017 campaign (68 appearances, 4.29 FIP), making 24 starts (4.53 FIP) in 2018 and 26 starts (148 IP, 4.32 FIP) in 2019.

Relative to other KBO hurlers, Lee offers pretty solid command (career 2.16 K/BB ratio), but he’s also nothing special. And keep in mind, his 2019 FIP was 1.74 runs higher than Yang’s.

In terms of metrics relative to MLB pitchers, this is the 2019 equivalent of 2019 Max Scherzer (2.88 FIP) facing former KBO starter Merrill Kelly (4.58 FIP), Mike Minor (4.60 FIP) or Jakob Junis (4.63 FIP) — a significant mismatch.

The Bears dressed up Friday’s win a bit with three ninth-inning home runs — all against the same reliever. They have been hot offensively, no doubt, but I still make the Tigers, with their ace Yang, a pretty solid favorite for Saturday.

I would play the Tigers at -110 (implied 52.4%) or better, a 5.1% edge compared to my projection (57.5%). Conversely, I would have to play the Bears at +170 (implied 37%) — but I think they’re more likely to be -170 than a significant underdog. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

As for the total, which I projected at 8.8, I would bet Over 7.5 (-110) at a 5.4% edge, and either Under 10.5 (-115), a 5.4% edge or Under 10 (-105), a 5.3% edge.

Even if they open as the favorite, the public will likely pile on the Bears given their recent streak. Be patient, and wait for the best numbers on the Tigers and the Under, if those look like potential value bets.

Doosan Bears vs. KIA Tigers Picks

  • Tigers +112 (1 unit)

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Around the KBO and CPBL

I couldn’t pass up a huge opening number at +168 (implied 37.3%) on the last-place SK Wyverns (1-8) against the league-leading NC Dinos (8-1), with my projection standing at 47.8%.

I have made adjustments to my rankings on both teams since the season started, but the Wyverns were projected to finish ahead of the Dinos by virtually every preseason prognostication.

As of writing, SK has been bet down to +107 (implied 48.3%) which is within one-half of one percent of my projection. I wouldn’t play the Wyverns below +130 (implied 42.5%), a 5.5% edge,  and I would keep the stakes small until they stop beating themselves. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

I played the KT Wiz at my cutoff number, -116 (implied 53.7%), a 5% edge compared to my projection (58.7%). They have raked on offense with a 110 wRC+, but their pitching (5.11 FIP) ranks second to last in the KBO.

Their opponent, the Samsung Lions, rank last in pitching (5.50 FIP) with a 73 wRC+ on offense, and Saturday starter Sung-hwan Yoon (4.89 FIP in 2019), who is making his 2020 debut, is far from their best arm. Expect to see more offense in that series.

Lastly, I’ll be looking to bet the Fubon Guardians in the CPBL. After Friday’s 7-6 loss, the Guardians are now 0-7 and have still yet to defeat the Rakuten Monkeys with their new manager and the Monkeys’ old skipper, Hong-I Chung.

Mike Loree (3.43 FIP, 2.76 DIPS ERA in 2019), arguably the best CPBL pitcher of all-time, will make his 2020 debut for the Guardians after sustaining a collarbone injury.

Loree doesn’t have big fastball velocity, but he offers excellent command, a sterling reputation with CPBL umpires, and a tremendous forkball:

After pitching for the Monkeys early in his CPBL career, Loree has faced them 46 times, going 21-13 with a 3.23 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and a 4.21 strikeout to walk ratio in 292.1 innings pitched.

I projected the Guardians at 48% for Saturday and would play them at +150 (implied 40%) or better, an 8% edge. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.


Full KBO Betting Card for May 16

  • KIA Tigers +112 (1 unit)
  • KT Wiz -116 (1 unit)
  • SK Wyverns +168 (0.5 units)

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KBO Year to Date: 12-19 (-3.8 Units)

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Full CPBL Betting Card for May 16

  • Fubon Guardians +150 (1 unit)

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CPBL Year to Date: 27-20 (+6.47 Units)


Zerillo’s Full KBO + CPBL Model, 5/16

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: 

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