The USA has made it to the World Baseball Classic final, and what a treat it has been. If you ever wondered what it would look like to have Trea Turner, Pete Alonso, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Tim Anderson, J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Tucker, Kyle Schwarber and Mike Trout on the same team, be sure to tune in Tuesday night. It’s dreamy.
2023 World Baseball Classic Championship Game Odds
- Moneyline: USA (-120)| Japan (+100)
- Run line: USA -1.5 (+140)| Japan +1.5(-192)
- Total: 9.5 Over (-120) | Under (-102)
- Game Info: March 21, 2023 | 7 p.m. ET | FS1
Offensively, Turner has been a standout for the American team, batting .386 with four home runs. Two of those home runs came in the semifinal game vs. Cuba, and another was the go-ahead grand slam that sent Venezuela packing in the quarterfinals. Look for Turner to stay hot at the dish. Trout has the second-most RBI for Team USA with seven; Goldschmidt, Arenado and Anderson each have five. Team USA has scored 49 runs in six games, with an OPS of. 961 – second only to Japan.
The pitching for Team USA has been less than dependable in the WBC, allowing 25 earned runs for a 4.33 ERA. Merrill Kelly, who pitches for the Arizona Diamondbacks, is expected to get the start. Kelly isn’t a high strikeout pitcher, and he allowed two runs across three innings he pitched for Team USA in the WBC. That being said, the USA can certainly cobble together a winning pitching staff.
So what is this USA team missing? Shohei Ohtani. Unfortunately for the USA, Ohtani plays for Japan. He’ll bat third Tuesday night and is expected to be used in relief.
Shota Imanaga will get the start for Japan. Imanaga has allowed three hits and one earned run with five strikeouts across only four innings pitched in the WBC. In what could be a lucky break for the USA, it looks like Yu Darvish will follow Imanaga for Japan. Darvish has allowed four runs -- three earned, across five innings pitched in the WBC.
Ohtani has been extraordinary in this tournament, pitching 8⅔ innings with 10 strikeouts and only two runs allowed. In addition to that, he has more RBIs and a higher batting average than Trout. He also sparked the rally that led to the walkoff win in the ninth vs. Mexico Monday night. Team USA will have their work cut out for them.
Overall, Japan’s pitching has been the best in the tournament, limiting opponents to only 14 earned runs for an ERA of 2.33 and leading the tournament with 72 strikeouts despite surrendering five runs to Mexico on Monday night.
Offensively, not only has Ohtani stood out, young Red Sox power-hitter Masataka Yoshida has put on a show, hitting .474 with an impressive 13 RBIs, which leads the tournament. That includes a game-tying three-run homer vs. Mexico on Monday. Team Japan has put up the most offense in addition to having the best pitching, scoring 52 runs across six games in the WBC.
As an aside: Ohtani is 2-to-1 to win American League MVP at SI Sportsbook. Yoshida is 6-to-1 for AL ROY and Mike Trout is +650 to take home his third AL MVP. All three look like good futures bets based on their WBC play.
So, how should we bet on this one?
My heart says bet on Team USA to go back to back. They are the reigning champs, last winning in 2017, and their offense is hot. Japan could be tired coming off a hard-fought win Monday night.
In his career, Trout has an OPS of 1.087 vs. Darvish, who he could face in the middle innings, with four home runs. Trout’s four career home runs and 13 hits are tied for the most Darvish has allowed to any single player. Nolan Arenado is batting .400 with three homers across just 20 career at-bats vs. Darvish, Turner is batting .353 and Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .310.
My head says bet on Japan. Ohtani could be a one-man wrecking ball, and there are no major weak spots for Japan. Japan could be amped coming off a walk-off win last night. Also, it pays even money.
I’ll follow my heart, though, and take Team USA while hoping Ohtani still gets a ring later this year with a midseason trade to an MLB contender.
USA to win (-120)
Over 9.5 runs (-120)
Mike Trout HR (+230)
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem and wants help, call the National Council for Problem Gambling 1-800-522-4700.