KBO Picks, Odds Predictions & Betting Model (Tuesday, May 26): Can Straily Tame Lions?

Credit:

Mark Brown/Getty Images. Pictured: Dan Straily

About 12% of the way through the 2020 KBO schedule, it’s pretty clear that the offensive environment is different this year than it was during the 2019 season, when the league intentionally de-juiced the baseballs:

Run-scoring is up more than 16% from last season, while the home run rate has increased by nearly 36%, and the average OPS for a batter has ticked up by 6%, although it stills falls short of 2018 levels (.803 league OPS).

While these early season games are being played in warmer weather than expected, before pitchers (who are experiencing a rash of injuries) have gotten their arms and bodies to 100% effectiveness. we also have data that shows that KBO baseballs are flying three kph faster than in 2019. The hard-hit rate has also increased from 22.4% to 27%.

While the top-flight pitchers can continue to dominate in such an offensive environment, average and below-average arms are going to pay the highest price as the league standard for FIP continues to increase.

Live in-play over bettors, who aggressively target weak bullpen situations, likely have the most significant edge in the KBO right now.

But where can we look to press an edge in Tuesday’s pre-game wagering markets?

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: 22-29 (-2.04 Units)
  • CPBL Year to Date: 29-20 (+10.35 Units)

KBO Odds, Picks, Predictions & Betting Model


Odds as of 12 p.m. ET on Monday 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.


Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants

  • Lions moneyline: +110
  • Giants moneyline: -130
  • Over/under: 8.5
  • Time: 5:30 a.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN
  • BET NOW

Probable Pitchers: Samsung Lions (Chae-heung Choi) vs. Lotte Giants (Dan Straily)

The Lions and Giants finished 8th and 10th respectively in the 2019 KBO standings while winning a combined 38% of the time  — equivalent to a 62-win MLB season throughout a 162-game schedule.

Neither club had particularly high expectations for 2020, and FanGraphs ZIPS projected the two teams to finish with between 62-64 wins (combined 44% win rate) and to finish, once again, near the bottom of the KBO table.

After beginning the season 5-0, the Giants (9-8) have gone 4-8 and now sit in the middle of the standings with a fairly-telling -8 run differential, one of four teams who have been outscored by their KBO opponents. The Lions (6-12) have scuffled for three weeks, and own the second-worst run differential (-17) in the league.

On Tuesday, they’ll look for a big outing from 25-year-old southpaw Chae-heung Choi, whose 4.28 FIP belies a 2.65 ERA through three starts this season.

The lefty posted a 3.94 FIP in 2019, but a .343 BABIP led to a 4.81 ERA, and though the ERA-FIP discrepancy has inverted so far this season, you can probably project Choi for a FIP of around 4.00-4.15 going forward.

His velocity (91 mph fastball) isn’t dominant, but Choi isn’t afraid to challenge hitters in the zone, and he also has a pretty nice slider.

On Tuesday, Choi will face MLB veteran Dan Straily, who posted a 4.94 FIP over 140 starts in the big leagues.

Straily is just 1-2 to start his KBO career, but he has impressed by striking out 25 batters in 22 innings pitched:

From 2012-2018, Straily’s slider — which he used 27.7% of the time in his MLB career — returned a positive pitch value each season. However, Straily’s changeup became a more significant part of his arsenal last year, as its usage increased by 7.1% (to 24%) over 2018 — and his slider was walloped.

The righty should reduce his walk rate (10 in 22 IP) as he settles into the KBO — and if he can maintain a strikeout rate of one batter per inning, he should turn into one of the league’s best starters.

Straily has an atypical level of MLB experience for a foreign pitcher in the KBO. And that pedigree seemingly provides him with a very high floor against a lower level of competition.

I projected the Giants as a 60.6% favorite (implied odds of -154) for Tuesday, and I would bet the Giants down to -130 (implied 56.6%), a 4% edge compared to my projection. Conversely, I would look to bet Choi and the Lions at +154 (implied 39.4%) or better, which is also a 4% edge compared to my projection (43.4%). Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

I projected the total at 9.97 runs, and I doubt that you see actionable value on either side, but you could play Over 8.5 (-117), Over 9 (-104), Under 11 (-103) and Under 11.5 (-113); all for an edge right around four percent.

Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants Picks

  • Giants -130 (1 unit)

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


Around the CPBL and KBO

Drew Gagnon (2.66 FIP) has improved and impressed through three starts for the KIA Tigers, recording 18 strikeouts over his past 11 innings pitched:

The former Mets reliever looks like another potential ace for the Tigers behind Hyun-jong Yang, and the two have helped their team to a KBO-leading 3.94 FIP through three weeks.

Meanwhile, the KT Wiz bullpen has blown at least seven leads, including three ninth-inning leads, and their lineup remains without one of the KBO’s best hitters in Baek-ho Kang; leaving one of the league’s top offenses with just 20 runs scored in the four games since his injury.

Starter Je-seong Bae (3.09 FIP; 3.91 in 2019) has been effective through three outings for the Wiz, whose team FIP (5.07) would be higher but for a solid rotation, but he allows significantly more scoring opportunities via balls in play and walks than Gagnon does, and while Gagnon’s ERA (3.86) should see positive regression, Bae (0.89 ERA) is overdue for a poor outing.

Either way, I played the Tigers at +122 and would bet them down to +113 (implied 46.9%), a 4% edge compared to my projection (50.9%) on the Tigers as a small road favorite.

The Hanwha Eagles will see the return of Chad Bell (4.1 FIP over 177 IP in 2019) against Tyler Wilson (4.56 FIP; 3.24 in 2019) – whose command has been off in his first few starts.

I previewed the Twins’ righty twice already, first on May 13 and again on May 20, noting his fastball/changeup/slider pitch mix.

Bell, who tossed 69.2 innings for the Tigers from  2017-2018, posted a 4.27 ERA over five seasons at Triple-A and has mostly carried that level of performance over to the KBO.

Relative to other KBO hurlers, he has solid fastball velocity (average 94 mph in 2018) with two breaking-balls (slider and curveball both around 25% usage) and an infrequent changeup.

The southpaw is a competent hurler, and the Eagles have kept most of their games very competitive.

I would play the Eagles down to +144 (implied 41%), which is a 4.1% edge compared to my projection at 45.1%. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.


Full KBO Betting Card for May 26

  • Hanwha Eagles +175 (1 unit)
  • Lotte Giants -130 (1 unit)
  • KIA Tigers +122 (1 unit)

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

  • KBO Year to Date: 22-29 (-2.04 Units)

Full CPBL Betting Card for May 26

  • TBD

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

  • CPBL Year to Date: 29-20 (+10.35 Units)

Zerillo’s Full KBO + CPBL Model, May 26

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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