A new day brings more of the same with each of the top three teams winning again as they try to pull further away from the pack. We saw a lot more run scoring that we did yesterday, with the Dinos, Twins, and Lions each scoring 10+ runs, a shutout by the KT Wiz (more on that below), and the KBO version of a home run derby between the Twins and Eagles.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Scott Chu and Alex Fast:
Jun Eun-won (2B, Hanwha Eagles): 2-3, HR, R, RBI. The young and fairly slight Jun, who weighs in at just 171 pounds and is under six feet tall, doesn’t often display much power but did manage to hit his first home run of the season from the top of the lineup. He doesn’t get on base as much as you’d expect from a KBO player, but he has a hit in 11 of his last 13 contests and has plenty of time and opportunity to grow into a classic Korean leadoff hitter.
Yang Eui-ji (C, NC Dinos): 1-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Don’t you wish more MLB catchers could hit like this? His career .874 OPS makes him a slightly above average hitter by KBO standards but the last two years have been especially kind to him as he posted back-to-back 1.018 OPS seasons. He’s also hit at least 20 home runs in four of the last five seasons. This was just his first dinger of the 2020 campaign, but batting in the middle of the impressive Dinos order should give him plenty of opportunities to pile up counting stats.
Choi Jeong (3B, SK Wyverns): 0-0, 4 BB. It’s the KBO, baby! Where else will you see a former home run king (not named Barry Bonds) take four consecutive walks from the third spot in the lineup? While the Wyverns couldn’t take advantage of having men on base, you can’t blame Choi Jeong or Choi Ji-hoon, who combined to get on base seven times. Unfortunately, those seven base runners only turned into one run as the Wyverns lost yet again.
Bae Jeong-dae (CF, KT Wiz): 3-4, 2B, R, 3 RBI. The 24-year-old Bae, who has never really impressed at the plate prior to 2020, appears to have found something that works for him as he extended his hitting streak to 12 games and has a hit in 17 of his 19 starts on the season. His .361/.409/.525 line is a 100+ point improvement over his career numbers, and while we haven’t seen his first home run of the season yet (which will be the 2nd of his career), there’s plenty for Wiz fans to be excited about in him.
Kim Hyun-soo (LF, LG Twins): 3-4, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB. Despite once saying he’d consider a return to Korea a “failure“, Kim has been a welcome addition to the now-powerful Twins lineup. This was his fourth consecutive multi-hit game and he remains one of the top 10 or 15 hitters in the league and a crucial part of the dangerous 2-3 punch with teammate Roberto Ramos.
Jose Miguel Fernandez (DH, Doosan Bears): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. After surprisingly going hitless in his previous start, Fernandez picked right back up where he left off with his 14th multi-hit game of the season. To put that in proper context, this was the 19th game. He’s taken a massive step forward in his second season for the Bears and even at 32-years-old he should gather significant interest from MLB squads should he continue to dominate.
Son Ah-seop (RF, Lotte Giants): 2-4, R. The long-time Lotte Giant slapped a single into the outfield grass in the bottom of the eighth, sparking a miniature rally that led to him scoring from second base on a single by Lee Dae-ho. Son has been one of the top Giant hitters over the course of his long career, and even flirted with coming to the US back in 2015 and 2017, though he received no interest in the first attempt and changed his mind in the second attempt. His power and speed makes him a solid table-setter.
And now for your bat flip of the day—a pinch hit three run shot by Kang Jin-sung:
That bat flip is art. ?️
[Normally I don't tweet bat flips, but, technically, that's more like long toss.] pic.twitter.com/uL6xEX8ptx
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 27, 2020
Odrisamer Despaigne (KT Wiz): 8 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 7 K, 3 BB: Despite sitting around 93 mph with his fastball, Despaigne is known as a power pitcher in the KBO. When things get a bit hairy he can rely on his velocity for outs. After walking the first batter and hitting the third, Despaigne started turning to the heater a bit more and having success. Despaigne really got into a groove starting in the 3rd inning. He recorded seven consecutive groundouts didn’t allow a baserunner until the 6th inning and didn’t give up another hit until the 8th inning. While Despaigne’s stuff may not play in the MLB, he seems primed for success in the KBO. Through five starts, Despaigne now has a 1.69 ERA with a 0.94 WHIP.
Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions): 8 IP, 0 ER, 1 R, 4 H, 6 K, 0 BB: The 20-year old is one of Korea’s young budding stars and for good reason. While Won’s FB sits in the upper 80’s/lower 90’s it features a nice amount of arm side run to it which can result in some ugly swings and dropped third strikes. After a shaky first inning in which Tyler Saladino pretty much gave Jeon Jun-woo a concussion, Won settled in and picked apart the Giants with an above average fastball/slider combination. This is now back-t0-back 6 K starts for Won who has now improved with each passing start.
Lee Jae-hak (NC Dinos): 6.1 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 6 K, 2 BB: A day removed from Koo Chang-Mo’s dominant performance, it was Lee Jae-hak’s turn to step up for what is unarguably the best rotation in the KBO. Lee was able to shake off a rough outing against Doosan last week and use his two-pitch mix to tie his season high K performance at 6. Yes, you didn’t read that wrong: his two-pitch mix. Lee Jae-hak only goes fastball/change-up. He has a slider that he’ll maybe throw once or twice a game but it’s just fastball/change-up for him. While Lee won’t be making the jump to the MLB any time soon, it’s a lot of fun watching him mix speed and location to befuddle hitters.
Yu Hui-kwan: (Doosan Bears): 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 K, 4 BB: The professional in me wants to talk about what was a pretty good performance from the Doosan Bears. But I also just want the world to know how
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) November 2, 2016
Gettin ton of Qs about #KBO these days so I’ve decided to intro players. LHP Yoo Hee Kwan won 11 games for defending champ #DoosanBears. He is KBO version of Mark Buehrle. Knows how to change speeds/locates well. FB avg velo is 80 but dont let radar gun fool u. He gets outs/Ws pic.twitter.com/q2SKEA6hQS
— Daniel Kim 대니얼 김 (@DanielKimW) April 22, 2020
Reason #1147 to love the KBO:
Here is the Doosan Bears pitcher, dressed as Olaf, hitting a double in a winter charity game. pic.twitter.com/AWKx07D9YG
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 27, 2020
— Dan Kurtz (@MyKBO) May 22, 2020
Thursday’s Key Matchup
Eric Jokisch (Kiwoom Heroes) vs Kim Young-gyu (NC Dinos): The NC Dinos have been virtually unstoppable in the first three weeks of the KBO season but they’ll get arguably their biggest pitching challenge in Eric Jokisch. Through four starts, the former MLB journeyman has a 1.17 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP. He’ll look to make it four consecutive quality starts against an offense slashing .289/.369/.454; 3rd best in the KBO by AVG and SLG standards. On the other side, Kim Young-gyu will look to bounce back from an outing where defense hurt him badly. While I wouldn’t expect Kim to record more than four or five K’s, he’ll be able to use his slider/change combination to induce a lot of weak contact.