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KBO Picks, Odds Predictions & Betting Model (Tuesday, May 19): Are Doosan Bears & NC Dinos Primed for Slugfest?

KBO Picks, Odds Predictions & Betting Model (Tuesday, May 19): Are Doosan Bears & NC Dinos Primed for Slugfest? article feature image

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images. Pictured: Chung Soo-bin

  • The latest KBO odds make the NC Dinos a slight favorite over the Doosan Bears in the Tuesday morning ESPN matchup.
  • Our baseball expert Sean Zerillo is not betting on that game, but he has three KBO picks with value, including a few underdogs you should be eyeing.
  • Check out his full betting breakdown below, along with his KBO picks for Tuesday's slate.

On Sunday morning, we all but confirmed that the KBO has likely gone back to using their hitter-friendly baseballs in 2020 — despite intentionally de-juicing their balls last season — perhaps to appeal to an international audience.

The league has reportedly tested the baseballs and denied these claims. Still, players and coaches seem to be in universal disagreement with their assessment — while home run totals are regressing towards 2018 levels, and overall run-scoring has increased by 13% compared to last season. 

On Monday, Taiwan’s CPBL revealed that their baseballs are likely to blame for the league’s 28-29% increase in both home runs and overall-run scoring this season, as the average triple-slash line has improved from .288/.361/.439 to .307/.368/.483 – with the average league OPS increasing by 50 points.

By the end of this week, we’ll be more than 20% of the way through the CPBL schedule — but as of Monday, we’re just 7.6% of the way through the KBO schedule — so the Taiwanese data sample is more significant.

So while you should already be making slight adjustments to your handicapping in both leagues, I would be much more aggressive in bumping your Taiwanese totals.

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: 14-20 (-2.18 Units)
  • CPBL Year to Date: 28-20 (+8.87 Units)

Odds as of Monday at 12 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

NC Dinos vs. Doosan Bears

  • Dinos moneyline: -125
  • Bears moneyline: +100
  • Over/under: 9.5
  • Time: 5:30 a.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Probable Pitchers: NC Dinos (Mike Wright) vs. Doosan Bears (Young-ha Lee)

No team has benefitted more from increased run-scoring so far than the reigning KBO Series-winning Doosan Bears (7-4), who ranked second in the league at 5.1 runs per game and third with a 118 wRC+ last season.

Through 11 games in 2020, the Bears lead the KBO at 7.45 runs per game, with a 141 wRC+, though their pitching — which lost its two best starters — ranks eighth with a 4.84 FIP.

The NC Dinos (10-1) have the highest-scoring margin (+31) in the league, even though they rank fourth in wRC+ (115) and sixth in FIP (4.64) — but they are within a percentage point or so of having the second-best offense.

They should have the pitching advantage over the Bears on Tuesday with former Orioles’ and Mariners’ hurler Mike Wright making his third KBO regular-season start, after a dominant preseason, against 23-year-old Young-ha Lee. The latter posted a 3.95 FIP in 29 games for the Bears last season.

The 6-foot-6 Wright has quickly shown that he will probably generate a high number of strikeouts with good command in the KBO — despite being more of a strike-thrower with no true above-average out-pitch at the MLB level.

But he offers significant velocity relative to other KBO hurlers, which allows all of his pitches, and specifically his fastball and power slider, to play up:

All 7 of Mike Wright's strikeouts today in his KBO debut for the NC Dinos.

Wright's final line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 HBP

Dinos beat the Samsung Lions 4-3.

— Connor Newcomb (@ConnorNewcomb_) May 6, 2020

Young-ha Lee doesn’t offer the type of command (5.7 K/9, 1.53 K/BB in 2019) metrics that you look for in an MLB pitcher, but he provides good velocity (93 mph) relative to other domestic pitchers, and he pitches aggressively with that fastball.

He also relies on his cutter (87-88 mph) to generate weak contact while using a slider (80-81 mph) as his primary breaking ball — though he’ll mix in a few slow curveballs.

He’s not usually the type of pitcher who I would bet on, only given the stats. Still, Lee pitches with purpose, is aware of his strengths and deficiencies, and he appears to have a higher upside relative to other young starters in the KBO:

Wright being the better starter puts this game at right around a pick in my projections, with a slight lean to the Bears (50.6%) who I would play at +120 (implied 45.5%) or better. Conversely, I would bet the Dinos at +125 (implied 44.4%) or better. 

Either bet represents an edge of around 5% compared to my moneyline projection. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

The game total opened at 9.5, compared to my projection at 9.51 – so I doubt that you’ll find value on either side of the total.

NC Dinos vs. Doosan Bears Picks

  • N/A

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN, and WV only.]

Around the KBO and CPBL

As of 2 p.m. ET, the potential plays that I’m still watching out for include the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles at +160 (implied 38.5%) or better, and the CPBL’s Uni-Lions at +120 (implied 45.5%) or better — either one of which represents a 5.7% edge compared to my projection.

The Eagles play excellent defense and have been competitive in most of their games and Shi-Hwan Jang, who joined the Eagles this offseason after posting a 4.30 FIP over 27 starts for the Lotte Giants, has comparable numbers to Wiz starter William Cuevas (4.38 FIP in 2019).

The Wiz offense has performed 17% better than league-average in a small 2020 sample, while the Eagles have performed 25% below-average, but the Wiz bullpen remains one of the worst units in the KBO – and this game looks closer on paper than the oddsmakers suggest.

As for the KBO bets that I have placed – I show both the Samsung Lions and the KIA Tigers as favorites on Tuesday, and I bet each at plus-money and would play the Lions down to +110, and the Tigers down to +100.

Min-woo Lee moved from the bullpen to the rotation for the Tigers at the end of the 2019 season, when he posted a 3.84 FIP, and though he has a 5.91 ERA through two 2020 starts, his 3.30 FIP shows that he has been a bit unlucky.

20-year-old Jun-won Seo has more walks than strikeouts through his two 2020 starts for the Lotte Giants, after posting a 4.97 FIP in his rookie season.

The Giants started out hot, but have now lost four of their past six games, and they were projected to finish below the Tigers this season – I think that they have gained too much love too quickly.

As for the Samsung Lions, David Buchanan gets his third look at a KBO offense, after bouncing back from a poor first outing (5 ER), with a dominant second start against a strong lineup:

Today's KBO K leader was:

David Buchanan of the Samsung Lions.

7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K, 0 BB.

The placement of these K's in order: down, away, up, in, away, up, away, away.

— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 13, 2020

Twins starter Chan-gyu Lim was equally dominant (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K) in his 2020 debut against SK Wyverns, but the 27-year-old owns a career FIP north of 5.00, and I project Buchanan as a significantly better starter.

I also project this as the highest-scoring game of the day – and would bet the over up to 9.5 (-119) or 10 (-108) – either one of which represents edges greater than 6%.

In Taiwan – Logan Darnell makes his CPBL debut for the Uni-Lions after splitting 2019 between the Atlantic League and the Mexican League.

Darnell had a brief MLB stint in 2014 with the Twins but has mostly toiled around in the minors and independent ball for several different clubs in the time since.

The southpaw posted a career 3.82 ERA in Triple-A with ratios of 6.3 K/9 and 1.87 K/BB, which are comparable to his numbers over five seasons in foreign baseball leagues (3.65 ERA, 5.4 K/9, 2.32 K/BB).

In his MLB days, Darnell offered a four-pitch mix (fastball, curve, slider, changeup) and his fastball velocity sat in the low 90’s. He might have improved his command in the time since, but he still permits too many balls in play to have a turn into a dominant CPBL arm – but he should also immediately become one of the Uni-Lions’ better starters:

Full KBO Betting Card for May 19

  • KIA Tigers +124 (1 unit)
  • Samsung Lions +118 (1 unit)
  • Twins/Lions, Over 9.5 (-104, 0.5 units)
  • Hanwha Eagles +160 (1 unit)

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN, and WV only.]

  • KBO Year to Date: 14-20 (-2.18 Units)

Full CPBL Betting Card for May 19

  • N/A

[Bet now at DraftKings. CO, NJ, PA, IN, and WV only.]

  • CPBL Year to Date: 28-20 (+8.87 Units)

Zerillo’s Full KBO + CPBL Model, 5/19

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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