KBO Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds & Model (Thursday, May 28): Will Adrian Sampson Bring a Giant Presence to Lotte’s Rotation?

KBO Picks, Predictions, Betting Odds & Model (Thursday, May 28): Will Adrian Sampson Bring a Giant Presence to Lotte’s Rotation? article feature image

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images. Pictured: Adrian Sampson

Favorites both won and covered the spread in four of the five KBO games on Wednesday, with the Samsung Lions (+120) providing the lone win for underdog backers in an 11-1 blowout.

The NC Dinos (-152) defeated the Kiwoom Heroes 10-3 to improve their record to 16-3 on the season, and gambling twitter has started to refer to this team, quite dangerously, as “free money.”

While they are laying waste to the KBO right now, the Dinos’ swoon will come … eventually. In the past five seasons the best winning percentage in the KBO was .650 (Doosan Bears, 2016).

In each of Thursday’s five KBO games, I project the win probability for the favorites between 57.4 and 65.6% — so if there are any upsets, they will likely occur at a big number.

One of those favorites, the Lotte Giants, will see the debut of former MLB hurler Adrian Sampson, who returned to Korea on May 7, recently completed his mandatory two-week quarantine, and will be limited to 50 pitches in his first outing of the 2020 season on Thursday.

What can we expect from the righty, who pitched 125 innings over 35 appearances (15 starts) for the Texas Rangers in 2019?

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: 24-32 (-2.98 Units)
  • CPBL Year to Date: 29-22 (+9.29 Units)

KBO Odds, Picks, Predictions & Betting Model

Odds as of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday 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: +120
  • Giants moneyline: -152
  • Over/under: 10.5
  • Time: 5:30 a.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

Probable Pitchers: Samsung Lions (Dae-woo Kim) vs. Lotte Giants (Adrian Sampson)

Sampson, who pitched 153 MLB innings from 2016-2019 with a 5.24 xFIP for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, will be limited to around 50 pitches on Wednesday, in his first KBO start and 2020 baseball game.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for important external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck.

He offers solid velocity (average fastball 92.5 mph) for the KBO level and will try to set up his slider — which he threw 33.3% of the time in 2019 for a slightly positive pitch value — while mixing in the occasional changeup (14%).

Adrian Sampson is the first Rangers pitcher with 11 strikeouts and no walks since Cole Hamels in 2015 ⚾️🔥👀

(Via @Rangers)pic.twitter.com/GN3oorC7Ow

— SportsDay Rangers (@dmn_rangers) June 2, 2019

As you can see, he likes to bury that slider down and away from righties, and to force it down and in towards lefties:

The velocity split between Sampson’s fastball and changeup is just 5 mph, however, and while his fastball velocity was close to MLB average (41st percentile) his spin rate ranked in the sixth percentile, and he also finished near the bottom of the statcast pitching leaderboards in every batted ball metric.

Another area major area of concern is the longball and Sampson’s 2.18 HR/9 rate at the MLB level after allowing 37 homers in 153 innings pitched.

There are numerous pros and cons to his profile. Sampson does well at pitching to contact (career 1.9 BB/9 across all levels), but when he doesn’t use his slider that contact leads to a hard-hit ball more often than it would for other pitchers.

Keep in mind that Thursday’s start is also a bit of a spring training outing for Sampson – who likely has not had much of an opportunity to work on his craft in recent months.

Despite the limited pitch count, I project Sampson and his new squad as a 59.4% favorite (implied odds of -146) on Thursday against 18-year-old southpaw Yong-dong Heo, and I would play the Giants up to -124 (implied 55.4%), which is a 4% edge.

It’s difficult to project a teenage starter making his KBO debut, but I would have to play the Lions at +173 (implied 36.6%) or better, which is also a 4% edge compared to my projection (40.6%) Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

See all of Thursday’s KBO and CPBL projections below, and check back later today for my picks on the Lions-Giants game, and Thursday’s other KBO and CPBL games.

Samsung Lions vs. Lotte Giants Picks

  • N/A

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

Around the CPBL and KBO

As of 6:30 p.m. ET, I have made three wagers for Thursday, and there are several KBO underdogs whose moneylines are approaching actionable prices, in addition to one KBO total.

I have not placed a wager on the Heroes-Dinos game, but Over 10.5 (-112) is actionable at a 4.1% edge, and the Heroes’ moneyline is bettable at +170 (implied 37%) a 4.3% edge compared to my projection at 41.3%.

I would play any one of these KBO moneylines at the following prices:

  • Tigers (-115) / Wiz (+160)
  • Twins (-115) / Eagles (+160)
  • Bears (-160) / Wyverns (+230)
  • Dinos (-120) / Heroes (+170)

I anticipate that you might only see the Heroes – who I just watched get bet down from +180 to +150 – and/or the Eagles hit those price thresholds for Thursday.

I have played two KBO totals so far – one over and one under – each to win one half of one-unit – and I would bet these two lines to the following thresholds:

  • Doosan Bears / SK Wyverns, Under

I played this Under at 12.5 (-116), a 4.9% edge compared to my projection at 10.5, and would play it down to 12.5 (-120) or 12 (-111); either one of which represents a 4% edge.

  • LG Twins / Hanwha Eagles, Over

I projected this battle between KBO aces Warwick Saupold (3.85 FIP) and Casey Kelly (2.81 FIP) for 8.9 runs – and bet Over 7.5 (-106) at a 6.6% edge. You can play that Over up to 7.5 (-117) or 8 (-103), a 4.1% edge for either bet.

In Taiwan’s CPBL, I bet the Fubon Guardians at +182 (implied 35.5%) and would bet the Guardians down to +144 (implied 41%) which is still a 10% edge compared to my projection (51%).

It took the Guardians eight tries to defeat the first-place Monkeys this season, but they have now won two games in a row and will look for a third straight on Thursday, with 22-year-old Chiang Kuo-Hao (4.95 FIP, 106 ERA+) facing 21-year-old Weng Wei-Chun (6.89 FIP, 92 ERA+) for the Monkeys.

I’ll happily support Chiang and his plus-changeup at a big plus-money price, in a game where I have him favored:

Guardians' starter Kuo-Hao Chiang pitched eight innings and threw a lot of changeups against the Lions today. #CPBL pic.twitter.com/ZwzlxYbw4r

— Lucas Apostoleris (@DBITLefty) May 9, 2020

Weng also has potential, and was dominant in his first 2020 outing on April 19 against the Guardians:

Rakuten Monkeys' 21-year-old right-hander 翁瑋均 (Weng Wei-Chun) tossed 7 strong innings with 5 strikeouts. (7IP, 3H, 1ER, 5K, 2BB) #CPBL pic.twitter.com/ZENeXRYZGP

— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) April 19, 2020

But when he doesn’t have command over his glove-side two-seamer, his outings can get ugly – and he was partly to blame for the Monkeys’ May 17 loss to Fubon – when he allowed three runs and a pair of homers in less than two innings of relief.

With Thursday’s total listed at 15.5 runs, there should be a high degree of variance in this contest; and the Guardians are clearly undervalued.

Full KBO Betting Card for May 28

  • Doosan Bears / SK Wyverns, Under 12.5 (-116, 0.5 units)
  • LG Twins / Hanwha Eagles, Over 7.5 (-105, 0.5 units)

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

  • KBO Year to Date: 24-32 (-2.98 Units)

Full CPBL Betting Card for May 28

  • Fubon Guardians +182 (1 unit)

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

  • CPBL Year to Date: 29-22 (+9.29 Units)

Zerillo’s Full KBO + CPBL Model, May 28

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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