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As the sporting world looks to get its arms around the new normal thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) will likely lay the blueprint for what that looks like. While other smaller leagues have already opened around the world, this has been the first major organization to do so when they started regular season play this week.
With a surprising amount of data available and fandom that stretches far across the globe, ESPN has signed a deal to air six regular-season English broadcasts per week. While viewership might not pop off the charts given the early morning east coast times, there are two groups of folks who are ecstatic over the partnership. Bettors and bookmakers.
As games got started this week, there was no shortage of analysis and takes to get the season started. In what will be the second game of a three-game series, let’s take a look at one late-night matchup I have my eye on for later this evening (early Saturday).
LG Twins (-102) vs. NC Dinos (-120), 4:00 AM EST
These odds came from FanDuel Sportsbook on May 8, 2020.
Expected to be one of the best teams in the KBO this season, the LG Twins are led by their pitching staff and two American’s by the name of Casey Kelly and Tyler Wilson.
In the field, LF/1B Hyun-Soo Kim is one of the most popular players in the league, having spent time in Major League Baseball in 2016 and 2017 before returning home to Korea. In his first season back, Kim hit .362 and hit 20 homers, slightly regressing in 2019. If age is any indicator, a similar regression is expected this season as he is set to turn 33.
Through four games the Twins have largely struggled to score runs, averaging 3.33 over their last three in a league posting already high totals.
On the other side of this game, the NC Dinos are a relatively new team, playing their first season in 2013 but already striking gold with a former player. Current Washington Nationals 1B Eric Thames became the most popular player in team history in 2015, ending his time with the Dinos with a .381/.503/.790 stat line before departing for the MLB in 2016.
The hottest team thus far in the young KBO season, the Dinos are off to a 4-0 start, sweeping their opening series against the Samsung Lions before polishing off the Twins in game one of this series.
In this one, the LG Twins will turn to veteran right-hander Lim Chan-gyu to try and get their first win of the season. On the opposing mound, Dino’s 20-year-old Kim Young-gyu enters just his second professional season and a game that will be likely the most-watched in his career by a landslide.
I like Chang-gyu who ended the 2019 season with consecutive wins boasting an ERA of .75 and combined six hits, to get the Twins their first win of the season.