KBO Picks, Odds Predictions & Betting Model (Friday, May 22): Can Ramos, Twins, Blast Past the Wiz?

Credit:

Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images. Pictured: Kwon-Hui Dong

May 21, 2020, 11:52 AM EDT

While it’s delightful to wake up each day and enjoy some breakfast baseball on the East Coast, I still find myself missing the KBO fans most of all.

It’s incredibly ironic that this league came into our lives during a time when fans cannot attend live sporting events. The energy and passion that the KBO crowds bring to the ballpark each night is arguably the most significant part of what makes the league so unique.

But without fans in attendance, there’s an element of tension that is lacking, and I can’t help but feel like the KBO, and all of its beauty, will be distant in the rearview mirror of American culture by the time that these ballparks are full again.

I hope that I’m wrong. I hope that these new-found allegiances – with foreigners adopting KBO teams and learning about the league and its history, encourages people to keep following along, helps to grow the game, and incites travel to South Korea for people to take in some KBO action – hopefully by next season.

The green grass and the game will look familiar, but the crowd experience will be unlike anything that you have seen before.

“MLB is like opera, KBO is like rock-and-roll,” according to Lotte Giants superfan Kerry Maher.

But without fans in the stands, right now it looks more like band practice.

So just remember that as lucky as we are to have any sports to enjoy, we’re still missing out on the best parts of the KBO – the fans and the culture. Make sure to check in on them once in a while even after our professional leagues return; you might be pleasantly surprised.

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: 19-23 (-0.69 Units)
  • CPBL Year to Date: 28-20 (+8.87 Units)

Odds as of Thursday at 3 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

KT Wiz vs. LG Twins

  • Wiz moneyline: +100
  • Twins moneyline: -124
  • Over/under: 9
  • Time: 5:30 a.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
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Probable Pitchers: KT Wiz (Odrisamer Despaigne) vs. LG Twins (Casey Kelly)

Two of the top three current KBO offenses begin a three-game weekend set on Friday as the Wiz (120 wRC+) and wunderkind Baek-ho Kang:

Take on the LG Twins (112 wRC+) and Roberto Ramos, who leads the KBO with six homers as of Thursday morning:

Ramos has been a significant addition to the Twins offense – which was lacking a power element and may now have the best power-hitter in the league.

The Mexican-born, 6’3″, 220-pound slugger, posted a .309/.400/.580 triple-slash line in the PCL for the Colorado Rockies last season, after recording a .942 OPS between two levels in 2018 – but as an all-bat, no-glove asset, it’s hard for players in Ramos’s archetype to find MLB jobs nowadays – so perhaps the KBO suits him perfectly.

And it gives the Twins another foreign superstar to pair with Casey Kelly (3.41 FIP in 2019) who takes the mound on Friday.

The righty doesn’t have big stuff, but he’s consistent, offers good command, and keeps the ball on the ground, which, if you ask Bears’ lefty Hui-kwan Yu, is about all that you need to succeed in the KBO.

Kelly didn’t have a true out-pitch during his brief MLB career (4.71 xFIP), but his curveball was just about league-average and plays up as a wipeout pitch against KBO hitters:

Odrisaimer Despaigne also pitched to a 4.71 xFIP over 109 MLB games and 50 starts – with a subpar 5.22 K/9 and 3.22 B/9 – but his fastball, sinker, and cutter returned positive pitch values against MLB hitters.

All three pitches can prove really effective against KBO hitters, and if the home run rate is going back up, Despaigne (0.89 HR/9) will continue to thrive with his sinker.

He has been really solid through three KBO starts, with an 18:2 strikeout to walk ratio:

I have the Twins projected as 53.5% favorites (implied odds of (-115) for Friday, and I would play the Twins to +106 (implied 48.5%), which is a 5% edge. Conversely, I would look to play the Wiz at +141 (implied 41.5%) or better, which is also a 5% edge. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

With regards to the total, which I projected at 9.5 – I doubt you’ll see an edge on the Over, which would only be actionable at 8.5 (-105) or better; but look to play an Under at 11 (-110) or better.

KT Wiz vs. LG Twins Picks

  • N/A

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Around the KBO and CPBL

As of 8:30 p.m. ET, I placed three KBO wagers for Friday, the first of which is a small bet on the Eagles-Dinos Over, which I would play to 9 (-110) or 9.5 (+101) – but only for a half-unit.

The Dinos continue to get a lot of public support and will continue to after impressive wins like their nine-run, ninth-inning rally on Thursday – so betting against them in the near future does offer a scary, but likely valuable proposition.

I’m high on Eagles starter Warwick Saupold (3.46 FIP in 2019), who tossed a two-hit shutout on opening day.

He could struggle to handle this explosive Dinos offense, but their 20-year-old lefty Young-gyu Kim is a very raw arm in a league that pushes young players – particularly pitchers. He could implode on any given night, and the Eagles offer betting value down to +115.

I also bet on the Samsung Lions against the Doosan Bears and would play the KBO Lions to +128.

Lions starter Ben Lively (3.18 FIP in 2019) was one of the better pitchers in Korea last season, and I think his early 2020 struggles are partially the result of bad luck.

The Bears’ bullpen is also completely taxed after their three-game set with the Dinos, and their lineup was without two injured starters, including slugger Jae-il Oh on Thursday.

The Bears’ Yong-chan Lee (4.32 FIP in 2019; 4.53 FIP in 2018) is a bottom of the rotation arm facing a KBO level ace – when Lively is at his best:


Taiwan’s CPBL will hope to finally get going again after an off-day on Monday and three consecutive rainouts.

Uni-Lions’ recent signee Logan Darnell was impacted most by those rainouts, and he’ll attempt to make his CPBL debut for the third time on Friday.

I previewed Darnell earlier this week – noting that he 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. The Monkeys do crush left-handed pitching, and all pitching – scoring 8.73 runs per game – but at +250 (implied 28.5%) or better, I would make a small play on the Uni-Lions.

Veteran southpaw Wang Yi-Cheng (4-0, 3.13 ERA) has been excellent for the reigning CPBL champion Monkeys, but his FIP (5.86), DIPS ERA (4.13), and K-BB% (around 13%) are comparable to his 2019 metrics (5.09 FIP, 4.24 DIPS) – when he finished with a 4.54 ERA (career 4.96) in a lesser scoring environment while posting a career-best 3.42 K/BB rate.

His BABIP is nearly 60 points below league average – regression is coming.

In the other CPBL matchup, I made Henry Sosa and the Fubon Guardians a significant road favorite (62.6%) and would bet the Guardians at -120 (54.6%) or better, an 8% edge. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

Sosa posted a 2.95 FIP in 2019, easily the best mark in the CPBL, and although he went through a rough patch against the Brothers and Uni-Lions on April 25 and May 1 before hitting the injured list, he looked back in form on May 15 against the Monkeys:

Brothers’ starter Huang En-Sih is also due for regression, with a FIP a full run higher than his ERA, and a BABIP nearly 80 points below league average. I like him as a pitcher, but he’s only been about 25% better than your league average pitcher this year; while Sosa was nearly 70% better than other CPBL hurlers in 2019.


Full KBO Betting Card for May 22

  • Hanwha Eagles +116 (1 unit)
  • Samsung Lions +136 (1 unit)
  • Eagles/Dinos, Over 9 (-105, 0.5 units)

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  • KBO Year to Date: 19-23 (-0.69 Units)

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Full CPBL Betting Card for May 22

  • Fubon Guardians +100 (1 unit)
  • Uni-Lions +325 (0.5 units)

[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, 5/22

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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