KBO DFS: The Argument Against Drew Gagnon

This whole time, I’ve thought that “Gagnon” rhymed with “canyon,” but it’s actually pronounced “GAHN-yo.” Were you aware of that?

Anyway, this is just the wrong slate to play Drew Gagnon. He may be a white American and white Americans usually crush in the KBO, and regularly catch a lot of ownership at pitcher, but Gagnon in the wrong place at the wrong time, despite the right price.

Gagnon will be likely top-three in ownership with Chang-mo Koo and Dan Straily on Tuesday morning. But the raw ownership number should be tempered with Koo gobbling up so much of the share. We should fade Gagnon against the KT Wiz, as he has homerun problems in his past.

Gagnon will be heavily owned because he has the highest K/9 on the slate (12.67), albeit only 16.1 IP. Sure, he has a 2.77 FIP. Sure, he only has a 1.16 WHIP. Sure, he’s only given up one HR. But we’re talking about 16.1 frigging innings here.

Laying out the facts, we see that in 477.1 IP in Triple-A, Gagnon was trash. He had a 5.32 RA/9 while surrounding 3.2 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9. His HR/9 over 246. 1 IP in 2017-18 was closer to 1.3 than 1.1.

Gagnon was a simple fastball-change-curve pitcher in The States with no real efficiencies to justify the simplicity. His fastball had a slight sinking motion, which may have value in The O, and at 92 mph, it is faster than the average KBO high-80s fastball. The curveball was high contact groundball pitch. It is the change that generated whiffs. It was (and still is) definitely Gagnon’s money pitch. Probably because of the solid ten-mph drop from the fastball.

The problem is that Gagnon gets deep into counts, meaning that: even if he isn’t walking guys, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s throwing strikes. Sure, he struck out a ton of batters, but there’s some bad and ugly. The bad is that he’s thrown 87 and 93 pitches in sub-six-inning outings in which he gave up four runs each. Through 636 MLB pitches between 2017 and 2019, he only threw 45.7% of his pitches inside the strike zone.

Unfair to Gagnon to bring up his MLB data because if it didn’t suck, he wouldn’t be playing in Korea. But it’s most of we have for pitch data and throwing strikes is something that crosses over across levels and leagues pretty well.

So, let’s look at The O. Fastball, 40.6% in the zone. Curveball, 38.7% in the zone. Changeup, 45.7% in the zone. It’s no wonder Gagnon isn’t making it to the sixth inning on average. And why we can expect it will be difficult to do so against the KT Wiz.

KT is second in The O with a .379 wOBA and leading with a .494 SLG% so far in 2020. Since 2019, their switch-hitting star, Mel Rojas, Jr., is fifth in The O with a .414 wOBA and mashes from the left side of the plate to the tune of a .339/.399/.516 slash for a .915 OPS. This season, he’s off to a hot start, slashing .404/.448./635 against right-handed pitchers. Leadoff man Woo-jun Sim is dangerous in his own way, hitting .298 with a .348 OBP versus righties, while stealing 28 bags.

The silver lining to Gangnon is the Ks. Trusty, reliable Ks. Trusty and reliable because he’s taken the sinking action of his American four-seam fastball and has added a two-seam sinker in Korea. A sinker which has an extremely high contact rate, but might be elevating the effectiveness of that changeup.

Still not gonna do. I don’t care if he projects to 75%, I’m not overthinking it. I’m just playing Koo.

MARGINAL NOTES

— Speaking of American pitchers of whom I’m skeptical, I think Dan Straily sucks. There are no redeeming qualities to this massive flyballer, except his three-week unsustainable K rate.

— Still speaking of American pitchers, don’t forget that Robert Ramos had a Triple-A OPS around .950 versus left-handed pitching. Also, don’t forget that Chad Bell sucks.

— Seung-ho Lee doesn’t suck, but he is left-handed. He faces the NC Dinos . Since 2018, Eui-ji Yang has a 1.059 OPS versus lefties. Sok-min Park, .984. And Aaron Altherr had a .200 ISO versus lefties in MLB. Add Sung-bum Na’s .831 OPS and we have a stack.

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