KBO’s Preview, Predictions and Betting Odds for May 22

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South Korea's Lee Yong-chan. Photo by CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP

Friday’s KBO slate features five new and exciting match-ups for the weekend. Ben Lively is locked in to pitch on Friday after an injury to his right hand that took him out of his most recent start. How will he fare against the Doosan Bears? Here are the best bets for KBO’s Friday slate.

Kia Tigers vs. SK Wyverns

Friday, May 22, 2020 – 5:30am EST

Probable Pitchers Per MyKBO Website:

  • Kia: Yang Hyun-jong (2-1 4.80 ERA)
  • SK:  Kim Joo-han (0-2 45.00 ERA)

The Kia Tigers (8-7) are currently above .500 after a three-game sweep against the Lotte Giants. On the other hand, the SK Wyverns are now 2-12 to start the season after falling to Kiwoom in extra innings, 9-8.

Kia will send out Yang Hyun-jong for his fourth start of the season. Hyun-jong is 2-1 with a 4.80 ERA but has pitched two quality starts in his last two games this season.

Hyun-Jong started 29 games last season and finished with an ERA of 2.29 and a FIP of 2.58 for a WAR of almost 6. Hyun-Jong has consistently been Kia’s best pitcher up until this season.

Currently, he has an ERA of 4.80 and a FIP of 5.62. He’s allowed 1.8 homers per nine innings and his strikeout rate is lower while his walk rate is higher. I wouldn’t look too much into this and believe he’ll get back to his usual form eventually.

The Wyverns will send out a replacement for Nick Kingham, Kim Joo-han. He will get the start after three relief appearances this season. He’s got two losses out of the bullpen and has an ERA of 45.00 after those three opportunities. He’s allowed at least one run in each outing and hasn’t recorded a strikeout in one inning of work.

Although he’s compiled 1 inning, he’s thrown 50 pitches in three games. He just hasn’t produced many outs. For his career, Joo-han has an ERA of 5.78 and hasn’t had a successful season since his rookie season. Last year he had an ERA of 5.25. While his FIP was 3.94, he only had one start and pitched in 11 games. It’s a small sample size to be quite frank.

Currently, Kia has the lowest FIP in the KBO with a 3.99 while they’ve also upped their wRC+ to 104.5. The Tigers are starting to click on all cylinders and are now in 5th place.

Prediction

Yang Hyun-jong has won his last two starts this season. His stuff hasn’t been great to start the year but it’s still enough to get wins.

His career stats show what he’s capable of producing and while SK is starting to hit the ball a little better, as long as Hyun-jong can limit walks and get back to his high strikeout numbers, all should be good for the Tigers.

KBO Pick: Kia Tigers (-160) at BetOnline

Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP

Doosan Bears vs. Samsung Lions

Friday, May 22, 2020 – 5:30am EST

Probable Pitchers Per MyKBO Website:

  • Doosan: Lee Yong-chan (0-1 12.60 ERA)
  • Samsung: Ben Lively (0-3 5.54 ERA)

The Doosan Bears are coming off a series loss to the NC Dinos after being held to just 12 runs in those three games. The Bears are extremely explosive offensively as they’re hitting .316 with 17 homers and 94 runs.

Samsung’s Ben Lively will look to shut down the Bears to start the weekend series. Lively had a right-hand injury after his previous start but won’t miss a start as he’ll be ready to go on Friday.

Lively is 0-3 with a 5.54 ERA to start the season. After three games, his FIP is 6.81 and his WAR is in the negatives. Last season, he was a big strikeout thrower and limited walks but this year, he’s having problems with all the above.

Lively has already allowed three homers in three games this season and in his most recent start against KT, he left after just one inning after allowing two runs on three hits.

Lively had allowed ten hits in 12 innings in his previous two starts and wasn’t horrendous. He was able to limit the home run ball last season and that’s what has hurt him to start the season.

The only problem though is that his BABIP is just .278. Which means he’s producing more outs than the average when balls are in play. Doosan can hit very well and could be a dangerous team against Lively.

The Bears will pitch Lee Yong-chan who is 0-1 with a 12.60 ERA to start the season. Yong-chan has been more awful than Lively. In two starts this season, Yong-chan has allowed 14 earned runs in 10 innings pitched. He’s also allowed 14 hits including three home runs and three walks while striking out seven.

Against Kia, he tallied just one strikeout and allowed eight runs in four innings. However, in his career, Yong-chan has a 3.84 ERA. That could fool some people though as his FIP has been greater than four in his last three seasons.

Prediction

It’s hard to know what to expect from Lively in this start. He had a right hand injury that most thought would keep him out for at least one start. But here we are. Lively is pitching tomorrow and he hasn’t been great.

There’s reason to believe he’ll pitch better in this start. However, he’s got a FIP of 6.81 and his strikeout rate is down, his home run rate is up and his walks are also up. Add all of that with a bad hand while facing a Doosan Bears lineup that has plenty of pop?

Yong-chan also has a FIP of 6.88 to start the season. Yong-chan has been solid throughout his career and he’s going up against a Samsung offense that scored no runs on Thursday.

However, I think Samsung can potentially pull off this upset with a healthy Lively on the mound. But since he’s not healthy, the play is more likely on the over. The Doosan Bears should be able to score on Samsung and the Samsung offense won’t struggle against Yong-chan with the way he’s been pitching in the first two games.

KBO Pick: Over 10.5 (-115) at BetOnline

A referee (R) wearing a face mask gives the out sign to Doosan Bears’ Jung Soo-bin (L) at the first base. Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP

Kiwoom Heroes vs. Lotte Giants

Friday, May 22, 2020 – 5:30am EST

Probable Pitchers Per MyKBO Website:

  • Kiwoom: Jake Brigham (0-1 4.15 ERA)
  • Lotte: Noh Kyung-eun (1-0 4.91 ERA)

The Kiwoom Heroes are coming off a series win over the SK Wyverns while the Lotte Giants are having trouble plating runs. The Giants have scored 17 runs in their last 17 games and have lost six of those contests.

Jake Brigham of Kiwoom will get the start for the first game of the three-game series. Brigham has struggled in his first three games this season. He’s only gone over five innings once this season and that one time he finished over five innings, he got the loss.

In his last two games, he’s allowed six runs in just 9.2 innings combined. In those two games, he’s also allowed a homer per game and has struck out nine while walking four.

Brigham has never been a heavy walker as he averaged 2.45 walks per nine innings in his last two seasons. This year, he’s off to a rough start with 4.2 walks per nine innings and 1.4 homers per nine innings. This stuff, he limited last season.

Last year, Brigham finished with an ERA of 2.96 and a solid FIP of 3.22. He’ll get the chance to go up against a struggling offense in Lotte. That could help his ERA a little bit.

Lotte will pitch Noah Kyung-eun who is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA to start the season. He’s faced two below-average offenses in SK and Hanwha and has allowed 17 hits in 11 innings of work to start the season.

He’s done a solid job keeping walks to a minimum but is not known for his strikeout numbers. While his ERA is 4.91, his FIP is just 3.67. However, his FIP has reached at least 4.96 in his last five seasons in the KBO.

Kiwoom is coming off a nine-run night against SK and while nine runs seem a little much, the Heroes should put up a couple runs against Kyung-eun.

Kiwoom Heroes’ pitcher Jake Brigham. Photo by Ed JONES / AFP

Prediction

The Lotte Giants are struggling every which way right now. The Giants are currently projected to finish in the last place while Kiwoom is projected to finish in second place currently. Kiwoom’s pitching is second in FIP and their batting numbers are starting to increase after their series win against the Wyverns.

I love rolling with consistency. Jake Brigham has been really good throughout his KBO career. Things haven’t gone his way recently but he’s going up against a lineup that has been extremely silent this week.

KBO Pick: Kiwoom Heroes (-150) at BetOnline