The World Baseball Classic will finish its two-week run here tonight in Miami. On Sunday, the United States punched its ticket to the Finals with a victory over Cuba and will now face Japan in the Final after their win over Mexico on Monday night. To beat Japan, the US must do these things to retain its World Baseball Classic Title.
The 3 Things for Another US World Baseball Classic Title
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The offense has come alive in the last couple of games for the United States. They scored nine runs off Venasula pitching on Saturday and 13 runs on Cuba on Sunday en route to the Finals of the World Baseball Classic. This lineup for the US puts pressure on the opposing pitching staff, and it looks like it has finally come to life.
Considering the US will face one of the best staffs in the World Baseball Cassic with Japan, who has lights-out pitching. They have the best player on the planet in Shohei Ohtani, also veteran Yu Darvish.
The U.S. would’ve loved another shot at Mexico, as they routed the U.S. in their first match-up in almost every phase of the game, but facing Japan is equally as sweet. It’s their first match-up against eachother since the U.S. beat Japan to advance to the finals of the World Baseball Classic in 2017. The fact remains that the game will go as the U.S. offense goes.
Pitch Out Of Trouble
With Merrill Kelly taking the mound for the US on Tuesday, he needs to do what he did against Colombia. Limit the damage and pitch out of trouble. Granted, this is the final game in the World Baseball Classic, so he will have a few arms behind him just in case things get out of hand fast. However, being able to give a bit of length so that the bullpen only has to handle the latter stages of the game.
Kelly only got through three innings in his last start. He allowed two earned runs, walked two, and struck out one. Hopefully, he can improve off those numbers while still doing what he excelled at in that first start limiting the damage. Japan is a well-disciplined team at the plate and will look to work the count in their favor.
The worst-case scenario for team USA and manager Mark DeRosa would be Kelly imploding early on. In that case, he’d have to turn to, in all likelihood, Nick Martinez, who was the starting pitcher in the U.S.’ lone loss in pool play. A game they lost 11-5, which showed the weakness of this team’s subpar starting pitching.
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The U.S. got to its second consecutive World Baseball Classic final by simply overpowering teams on offense and pitching well enough to limit the damage the opposition did. Now being led by the crime and winning a title is incredibly difficult. A good starting pitcher or grand outing can easily shut down an offense.
The U.S. will have to face Japan in the final, possibly having to deal with both Yu Darvish and Shohei Ontani. That is no easy feat, but somehow this United States has had a flare for the dramatics. Trea Turner‘s go-ahead grand slam in the late innings against Venezuela. On top of that, ever since that at-bat, this team has responded to the opponent scoring by scoring a few runs of their own.
On the flip side, the bullpen and pitching have to do their job and keep the game within reach or hold the opposing team to a few runs. The offense of Japan will be hard to handle. As stated earlier, limiting the damage and preventing the big inning should give the star-studded offense a chance for the United States to lift another World Baseball Classic title.
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