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Projecting Upside and Leveraging it for Your Play Style
Before we get into my favorite plays for tomorrow, I wanted to briefly talk about how I measure/define upside when researching KBO pitchers. For starters, there are often misconceptions about safety and upside. It might seem like those two things are positively correlated but that is not always true. Depending on your contest selection (cash or GPP), you are probably targeting different types of pitchers. In cash, the goal is to roster pitchers who are safer plays more often than not. When playing GPP Tournaments, it can be more beneficial to target upside instead of safety. To put it simply, “safety” and “upside” can be primarily defined by looking at an expected range of outcomes (this tool exists within our DFS Army Research Station). Here is an example to better portray what this might look like for you… Let’s assume the same matchup for the purpose of the exercise:
Pitcher A ($9,000): Scores between 15-25 fantasy points in 88% of his starts dating back to the beginning of last season. In his worst 5 starts, he averaged 12 fantasy points. In his best 5, he averaged 27.
Pitcher B ($7,800): Scores between 15-25 fantasy points in 46% of his starts dating back to the beginning of last season. In his worst 5 starts, he averaged 5.6 fantasy points. In his best 5 starts, he averaged 36.
Clearly, pitcher B is more volatile and would not be my first “cash” game pick. He isn’t trustworthy enough based on his likely range of outcomes to put up a solid score like pitcher A. In cash, a decent score from a player who is high-owned will not hurt your chances nearly as much as it would in GPP. Because 50% of players win in cash, we don’t have to take as many risks to profit – unlike GPP tournaments where a smaller number of people profit and a higher score is more important (the higher you score in GPP, the more money you can win per entry… in cash, you win the same amount whether you finish in the top 1% or barely hit the 50% threshold). Now, this is less about contest selection and more about upside so back to the main point 😊 So when specifically trying to determine upside, what should we be looking for? Here are a few quick indicators for me:
Price vs Range of Outcomes vs Ceiling
I love using our KBO research station to better understand scoring history for certain players and how I might be able to leverage their outcome range (see above example) against their price. In the above example, pitcher B has shown he can score higher than pitcher A at a discount of $1,200. *You can also employ a similar strategy for the site you play on by trying to gauge how the player price on DK differs from his price on FD or vice versa.
Matchup Ranks and Matchup History
Another key factor when determining pitcher upside potential is the opposing offense/where the rank in certain categories within the KBO. Specifically, I like looking at stats like OPS (on base + slugging), strikeouts (how often do they strike out relative to other teams) and walks (what is their plate discipline like). This is true on the micro level and also the macro level in terms of looking at past matchups of the pitcher vs team. How many times has the pitcher faced this offense so far this season and what were the outcomes? What about looking back to 2019? Baseball is beautifully mysterious in some ways and there are hitters who struggle against pitchers sometimes without any glaring statistic to point at. Matchup and matchup history matters.
WHIP and ERA are decent indicators that can help give us a general idea as to how well a pitcher has performed over the course of his season/career. However, there are a few other stats that I like to pay close attention to when digging for upside. These include:
FIP – Fielding independent pitching. Think of it like ERA but with only the things a pitcher has the most control over (strikeouts, walks, HBP, home runs) and removing balls hit in the field of play.
BABIP – Batting average on balls in play. This stat removes outcomes unaffected by the defense (primarily strikeouts and home runs) and like FIP, can help us identify luck and regression trends for pitchers. If a pitcher has a FIP lower than their ERA and a high BABIP, its fair to assume there will be some positive regression. This often leads us to finding pitchers who might be less expensive but still with solid potential upside.
K/9 – Strikeouts per 9 innings. Strikeouts are incredibly important for DFS purposes. Pitchers with high strikeout upside (and potentially in matchups against teams that strikeout a lot) oftentimes have an increased ceiling (although that can also mean more volatile pitching). A higher K/9 means more strikeouts per nine innings.
RS/9 – Run support per nine innings. This one is the least important of the others listed but is helpful when trying to identify other factors that might lead to a pitcher getting the win (4pts on DK and 6pts on FD). A higher RS/9 means their offense scores more runs during their outings. * I also like to combine RS/9 with sportsbook odds to better understand win likelihood.
😅 Whew! That might have been like drinking from a fire hose but I wanted to give a small glimpse into some of my process/motivation for the way I write these articles. There is no right or wrong process and the things listed above are not exhaustive but hopefully this helps give some background. Now let’s get on to those picks!
Editor’s Note – To see these statistics in actionable form, simply take a peek at our KBO Research Station! K/9, WHIP, BABIP, and all the numbers you are looking for are a simple scroll to your right. Shown below are the basics like salary, team, etc. Our custom filters let you find anything you want with hyper efficiency, knocking hours off your potential research time.
KBO Pitchers and Picks for 5/27
Here are some of my favorite plays for the upcoming KBO slate. This morning’s slate is not very good for pitching and looks to me more like a GPP slate. But, Lets get into it! * indicates a left-handed pitcher. (Matchup data is from our Research Station vs Hand of pitcher)
Team: KT Wiz
Price: $8,300 | $23
Matchup: ISO (10th) | wOBA (9th) | SO (7th) | IRT (10th) | OPS (10th)
Notes: Just like Flexen last night, I feel that Despaigne should be chalky on this mornings slate. He has one of the better matchups today and isn’t that expensive. Right now, he’s our highest projected starter on DK, but only at 12.872 points…that shows you how bad pitching is on the slate today. That being said, he has Vegas’s support and KIA has been struggling against RHP this year with the 2nd lowest wOBA and the lowest ISO vs RHP so far this season. Despaigne has been pretty solid this year for KTW and should be able to put up another good outing here.
Format: CORE (FD) | CORE (DK)
Everyone else (I don’t think there are many great options today and all are very risky)
Tae In Won
Team: Samsung Lions
Price: $7,000 | $22
Matchup: ISO (7th) | wOBA (10th) | SO (2nd) | IRT (4th)| OPS(9th)
Notes: Pitching on this slate is awful, but he’s cheap and faces an offense that has been struggling so far this season against RHP. Actually, LOT ranks near the bottom in the categories I look at the most when deciding on pitchers. They have the lowest wOBA, bottom half in ISO and 2nd lowest OPS. They also are striking out the 2nd most. Won hasn’t really been great himself, but did show up with 6 K’s last game scoring 19 DK points. He isn’t a bad option considering his dirt cheap price.
Format: GPP (FD) | GPP (DK)
Ki Young Im
Team: KIA Tigers
Price: $7,500 | $24
Matchup: ISO (8th) | wOBA (7th) | SO (T-5th) | IRT (3rd)| OPS (4th)
Notes: Hard to really trust anyone here with how bad it is. KTW has had a pretty good offense lately, but still strike out 18% of the time to RHP. Im has done nothing but improve each start and fared very well against LOT in his last start. He’s cheap too and has some type of upside in this matchup. KTW has been better, but still striking out middle of the pack. It’s risky, but he is pretty cheap.
Format: GPP (FD) | GPP on DK
Chan Heon Jung
Team: LG Twins
Price: $6,500 | $27
Matchup: ISO (9th) | wOBA (7th) | SO (1st) | IRT (9th) | OPS (7th)
Notes: Pitching again is awful today and I don’t even know where else to go with some. He’s a complete fade for me on FD at that price, but on DK he’s an interesting GPP option. He has Vegas on his side in this one too and HAN ranks in the middle of the pack in most categories. He does get a slight advantage with HAN striking out the most against RHP at 20.1%. Hanwa comes in with the 2nd lowest ISO and bottom 4 in OPS vs RHP. Considering he’s so cheap and pitching is very hard to come by today, I don’t mind using him as an SP2 on DK at that price.
Format: FADE (FD) | SP/2/GPP (DK)
Others to consider:
Hee Kwan Yoo (Hui Kwan Yu on DK): Don’t love that he’s been so bad, but pitching stinks and he has a great matchup against SK. I would only use him if im playing 20+ lineups today as he’s not that good, but has a great matchup
OPS (On-base plus Slugging)
K/9 (Strikeouts per 9 innings)
ERA (Earned Run Average)
WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched)
QS (Quality Start)
IP (Inning Pitched)
ER (Earned Run)
KBO (Korean Baseball Organization)
LHP (Left Handed Pitcher)
BABIP (Batting Average Balls in Play)
Chalky (High Ownership)
RS/9 (Run support per 9 innings)
GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool)