KBO DFS: The Argument for Stacking Doosan Against Straily

Dan Straily was once a serviceable MLB pitcher, but being a flyballer requires giving up a ton of soft contact to not be a gas can. Straily could only avoid the hard contact for so long and the long ball eventually knocked him out of the majors for good. It would be unfair to use Straily’s MLB results against him, but groundball-flyball data tends to cross levels of baseball, as they are tendencies which belong to the pitcher.

Also, the home runs followed him to Triple-A, so Straily is probably a ticking time bomb in the KBO, making his opponent, the Doosan Bears, the stack of the slate for Sunday morning.

Behind Straily’s 0.72 GB:FB ratio was a massive 46.3% flyball rate in over 800 MLB innings from 2012-19. Only three pitchers with at least 750 IP in the 2010s had a higher rate—Marco Estrada (49.7%), Hector Santiago (48.9%), and Jered Weaver (46.8%). Of the four, Straily had the highest hard hit rate at 33.7% and not coincidentally the highest HR/FB rate, by far, at 13.1%. Over the course of 800 IP, that’s not bad luck, that’s you.

Of the 24 MLB pitchers on said list with flyball rates in the 40s, Straily is the only one with a HR/FB rate over 13% because he was tied for the lowest soft contact rate among the bunch (16.3%).

Being a flyball pitcher isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nearly 90% of flyballs end in outs. But unless you have the K stuff of Max Scherzer with the uncanny ability to limit hard contact to under 30%, it’s really hard to succeed as one.

This is all important because Straily allowed 1.6 HR/9 in his MLB career. 1.6 isn’t useful for KBO projections, but what got him to give up more than the average amount of HRs in MLB followed him to Triple-A last season and should follow him to Korea, especially against Doosan.

In 2019, Straily got crushed in MLB and was sent down to Triple-A, where he gave 1.2 HR/9 in 67.0 IP.

In 28.0 IP in Korea, Straily has only given up 0.64 HRs and a .657 OPS. But the walks are high (3.23 BB/9) and so are the flyballs. His 0.69 GB:FB ratio is tied for second-lowest behind Mike Wright’s 0.50 (min. 20.0 IP). Through the first 21 games, Doosan is third The O with 22 HRs.

The chickens should come home to roost.

Jose Miguel Fernandez is the star of the Bears stack, slashing .378/.435/.590 against right-handed pitching since 2019. His .212 ISO is only second on the team to the biggest power threat, Jae-il Oh’s .245. Jae-Hwan Kim has the third-highest ISO (.170) on the team versus righties, but the fourth-highest wOBA (.341).

Don’t sleep on number-nine hitter Kun-woo Park. He’s third on the team in wOBA (.366) against righties. He should go low-owned for his spot in the batting order along with being a right-handed hitter, despite Straily’s neutral platoon splits in MLB:

Straily’s actually given up 23 more HRs to righties, so one could argue he’s a reverse splits pitcher, but remember 2019 telling us he may be bad against everyone:

All in all, Straily’s given up 1.04 HR/9 since 2019 across Triple-A and the KBO. That is the most of any pitcher on the slate over that time. Doosan being the third-best offense on the slate in runs, power, and OPS, and second-to-none in their ability to drop double digits in a game. This is a slate-breaking combination which could go overlooked due to people avoiding Straily.

Straily has been successful in the KBO. His K/9 is in the double digits, his ERA is under 4.00, he has more Ks than IP in four of five starts. But he’s still Dan Straily. The flyballer who gives up hard contact to strong competition, as Kia and KT have demonstrated this season.

MARGINAL NOTES

— In a Dischord chat, I’m arguing this point with people who are telling me that Straily changed something along the way because his Ks have gone up. First, we can’t talk Ks without walks and we’ve already gone there.

Also, his pitch arsenal is the fourseam, slider, change, and sinker. The sinker is getting thrown in my face because I called it Korean kryptonite in a recent post. The facts are that: (a) he is only throwing the sinker 12.0% of the time in Korea, and (b) he is only generating swings 34.2% of the time while hitting the zone with it 36.7% of the time, so there is no indicator he is making people miss with it.

— The next highest HR/9 on the slate since 2019, including Triple-A, is Chris Flexen’s 0.99 against the Lotte Giants. The Doosan-Lotte stack could have the most power potential and go low owned, simply because DFS players are slow to stack against Americans.

— Stacks are slim pickens because of the power numbers on the pitching end. But look at the slugging percentages allowed and you’ll get a better picture of the total power available to be had on this slate.

— Speaking of stacking against Americans, SK is sneaky awesome. LHP vs. two great power RHBs. Still don’t even know if Chad Bell is stretched out.

— At pitcher, we just start Chang-mo Koo on FanDuel. On DraftKings, on the other hand, there is an argument for fading Koo, starting Gangnon, and being contrarain with the second pitcher. I still don’t trust Gangnon, but that price is stupid.

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