KBO Opening Day Betting Guide and Picks: NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions and More (May 5)

Credit:

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

The 2020 KBO League regular season begins on Tuesday in South Korea, one month, and one week later than initially scheduled. Still, its start provides hope that, eventually, Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan can get back to the field.

If you are looking for more information about the KBO, check out my season primer.

We will have plenty of time to deep dive into this league further in the coming weeks – we’ll discuss its stars, team histories, storied rivalries, stadiums, and try to figure out which teams we’re pulling for.

For now, let’s look for some small edges to play on opening day, beginning with a couple of overs that I tried for lower stakes, where the edge has only gone up in the time since I placed those bets.


Odds as of Monday at 3 p.m. ET and via PointsBet. Get up to $200 in risk-free bets at PointsBet today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


KBO Opening Day Schedule, Odds and How To Watch

NC Dinos (-155) vs. Samsung Lions (+124) | Over/Under: 8
Time:
1 a.m. ET
TV: ESPN
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Doosan Bears (+106) vs. LG Twins (-136) | Over/Under: 8
Time: 1 a.m. ET
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Lotte Giants (+108) vs. KT Wiz (-135) | Over/Under: 9
Time: 1 a.m. ET
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Hanwha Eagles (+120) vs. SK Wyverns (-150) | Over/Under: 8
Time: 1 a.m. ET
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Kiwoom Heroes (-135) vs. Kia Tigers (+108) | Over/Under: 7.5
Time: 1 a.m. ET
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I show two games with a projected total more significant than 10 runs for Tuesday – the NC Dinos vs. Samsung Lions (which will air on ESPN2), and the Doosan Bears vs. LG Twins, and I bet Over 8.5 (-115) on each game – an edge between 5.3% and 5.4% on either. 

The home team is an underdog in both games, making it more likely that you see the bottom of the ninth inning. The two domestic starters in those matchups, Jung-hyun Baek (Samsung Lions) and Woo-chan Cha (LG Twins) are the only two pitchers starting on Tuesday that I project for a FIP higher than 4.00 in 2020.

Though the Lions offense was more than 35% below league-average in 2019, their starter Baek (4.91 FIP in 2019) easily has the highest mark on the day – and I see the Dinos as a solid favorite – while the Twins’ Cha (4.26 in FIP in 2018) faces the next-worst starter for the day in Raul Alcantara (3.94 FIP in 2019) – who joins the defending-champion Bears from the KT Wiz.

The Twins offense is merely league average, while the Bears were 18% better than average in 2019, but I’ll still take crack against the defending champions with a home underdog in that contest.

I bet the Twins at +140 (implied 41.7%) a 6.7% edge compared to my projection (48.4%), and I would play them down to about +125 (implied 44.4%), a 4% edge. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

And if we’re going to bet against the defending champion Bears on opening day, we might as well take a shot against the runner-up Kiwoom Heroes too, as I feel that the Kia Tigers should be a slight favorite in that matchup.

I bet the Tigers at odds of +113 (implied 47%) and a 4.4% edge compared to my projection at 51.4%) – and I would play them down to +110.

We’re backing the Tigers star pitcher, 2017 KBO MVP, and 31-year-old lefty Yang Hyun-jong, who posted a 2.58 FIP and 6.64 WAR in 2019, against Jake Brigham for the Heroes (3.22 FIP, 3.27 WAR in 2019), in what should be a tight game with my lowest projected total (7.9) for the day.


Lastly, I’m betting a line that I think has gotten a bit out of control, as the Hanwha Eagles and former Detroit Tiger Warwick Saupold faces former Pittsburgh Pirate Nick Kingham and his new team SK Wyverns.

The line has moved roughly half a dollar since opening around +120 (implied 44.4%), so I’ll buy back for a unit at +175 (implied 36.4%) – an edge somewhere between 7%, and 11.7% depending upon how aggressively you project Kingham.

The 6’5″, 235-pound righty looks like an ace, but he didn’t possess a single above-average pitch at the MLB level, averaged just 92.2 mph on his fastball, and got absolutely hounded by lefties (.417 wOBA against).

The Australian-born Saupold was below replacement level in Detroit (5.30 xFIP, 1.49 K/BB) but he had a solid first year in the KBO with a 3.51 FIP and 2.52 K/BB, and the Eagles offense was a couple of ticks better than league average.

They were also the most efficient team defensively in 2018 – though their SK Wyverns finished just behind them. The bullpen and pitching depth is the culprit of the Eagles’ drop 19 win dropoff from 2019 to 2018.

Kingham’s xFIP (4.93) and command (2.25 K/BB) were better against MLB hitters than Saupold’s, no doubt. But he’s being priced like he’s an ace already in this league – and I don’t think he should be -200 against anybody yet.

You can play the Eagles down to +156, a 9% edge. Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.

Full KBO Betting Card for May 5

  • LG Twins +140 (1 unit)
  • Bears/Twins, Over 8.5 (0.5 units)
  • KIA Tigers +113 ( 1 unit)
  • Dinos/Lions, Over 8.5 (-115, 0.5 units)
  • Hanwha Eagles (+175, 1 unit)

[Bet now at PointsBet. NJ and IN only.]

Zerillo’s Full KBO Model, 5/5

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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