The United States provided the signature moment of this year’s World Baseball Classic when Adam Jones made his leaping catch at the wall to rob a home run. That catch combined with a monster home run from Giancarlo Stanton helped the U.S. team take a 6-3 win over the Dominican Republic and book its spot in the WBC semi-final. Next up for the United States is a date with Japan, who will be considered the favorite in this matchup. Yes, you read that right: Japan is favored to beat the United States. Japan has been one of the most successful teams in the tournament over the years and will look to play the spoiler role in from of the home crowd in Los Angeles, California on Tuesday night.
World Baseball Classic Game Details
Date: Tuesday March 21, 2017
Time: 9:00 PM ET
Odds: Japan -120
Why United States Might Win…
The United States proved how dangerous it could be in its rally against the Dominican Republic, coming back from a 2-0 deficit to record its biggest tournament victory in eight years. Stanton is an absolute beast at the plate but he won’t have to do it alone with Jones, Nolan Arenado, Eric Hosmer and Ian Kinsler making up an intriguing lineup. The U.S. has more than enough power throughout its lineup to deal with the Japanese pitching.
Meanwhile, it looks like Tanner Roark will get the nod as their starter on Tuesday but manager Jim Leyland can have him on a short leash. Chris Archer is set to rejoin the team in time for the semi-final and he could make an extended appearance. Leyland might want to preserve Marcus Stroman for the championship game, which means Archer could see the mound.
One of the main reasons why the United States could and should win here is that Japan hasn’t really been tested. Yes, they are 6-0 in the World Baseball Classic but who have they played? They had a much easier path to this point than the Americans. Korea got knocked out in the first round and that helped Japan. It also helped that the Cuban roster was much weaker than in previous editions. Their only real quality win was over the Netherlands and it beat them in 11 innings. The United States will be their toughest opponent to date.
Why Japan Might Win…
The Japanese have a deep and talented lineup that is very capable of putting up some strong run totals. Japan also has a championship pedigree including title wins in 2006 and 2009. The Japanese were dominant in Rounds 1 and 2, going undefeated against Cuba, Australia, China and Netherlands. Japan and they will be tough to beat in this game – especially because of who the Americans are putting on the mound.
Let’s face it: while the United States is still the ultimate baseball power, they aren’t fielding their best roster here. Tanner Roark is getting the start; that should tell you all you need to know. Their offense has been feasting in this tournament – Japan has drilled 10 home runs in six games – and that could very well continue.
The Japanese pitching – especially their bullpen – has been a great asset too. Stanton and some of the other players have talked about their unique pitching styles and how it can be difficult for the U.S. team to adjust. If the pitchers can keep the United States hitters off balance, then Japan will have an excellent chance to win this game.
While Japan has been the more successful of the two teams over the years, there definitely seems to be something special about this U.S. team. There is no doubt that the Jones catch stole the show in terms of the most memorable highlight of the tournament so far. Now this team has some momentum. They’ll attempt to make more memories with the chance to surprise on home soil. That home-field advantage could prove to be a big difference. Combined with the fact that Japan hasn’t really been tested yet and this seems like a decent spot to take a flier with the Americans as an underdog in the World Baseball Classic.
Pick: United States +115
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