It’s been over five years since Nolan Arenado fired an off-balance throw across the diamond at Dodger Stadium to secure the first-ever World Baseball Classic title for Team USA. On Saturday the Stars and Stripes are finally back as they will take on Great Britain to open pool play at 9 PM EST on Fox.
What Pool is Team USA in and who will they be playing?
The Americans will play in Pool C at Chase Field in Phoenix Arizona, alongside both of their North American rivals (Mexico and Canada) as well as Great Britain and Colombia whom the Stars and Stripes will play in their final game of Pool Play.
How does the Game and TV schedule look?
The Game and TV Schedule for the American pool play is as follows
Saturday, March 11th vs Great Britain 9 PM EST FOX
Sunday, March 12th vs Mexico 10 PM EST FS1
Monday, March 13th vs Canada 10 PM EST FS1
Wednesday, March 15th @ Colombia 10 PM EST FS1
How can the Americans advance in the tournament?
The top two teams from Pool C will advance to the quarterfinals where they will play either the first or second-place team from Pool D.
Now that we know who the Stars and Stripes will be playing, let’s break it down game by game.
I think that it’s first important to establish the fact that Team USA is far better than every single team in this group. If you go back to my first article where I ranked my top five teams in the WBC, none of them (besides Team USA) are in Pool C.
Game 1 vs Great Britain – The team from the UK will likely be finishing last in Group C. Other than Mariners catching prospect Harry Ford and Dodgers outfielder Trayce Thompson this team doesn’t have anything going for it as far as notable names go. At the time of me writing this article on Tuesday Morning, the Americans have yet to name a starting pitcher for this game but it shouldn’t really matter. Team USA will win this game easily to pick up their first win of the WBC.
Game 2 vs Mexico – Team Mexico is the team that I think will finish second in Pool C (behind Team USA). This team is loaded with talents like Julio Urias, Randy Arozarena, and Rowdy Tellez. One of the many breaks that Team USA has caught before this tournament has even started is that Julio Urias will be pitching Team Mexico’s WBC opener against Columbia on Friday making him unavailable to pitch against the Americans. Mexico will likely go with Taijuan Walker, or José Urquidy to take on Team USA. There is a world where Mexico takes down the Stars and Stripes but it’s not this one especially without Urias on the mound.
Game 3 vs Canada – The second spot in Pool C is pretty wide open, I think Mexico grabs it just because of their pitching but don’t be shocked if Canada winds up moving through. Freddie Freeman is far and away the best player on this team but the Canidains also feature Tyler O’Neill. The pitching staff is led by Guardians starter Cal Quantrill but I doubt he’ll end up pitching against the Americans. Team USA should beat Canada just like they usually do.
Game 4 @ Columbia – The last game will be the only game in which Team USA is the “road team”. When you think of USA vs Columbia, you probably think of the 2017 WBC opener that saw the Americans finally take down the South American squad 3-2 in 10 innings. I wouldn’t completely write Columbia off as being able to keep this game close but they won’t get the win. With Jose Quintana being off the roster due to an injury, their ace is now gone. From the American side it will be their fourth game together so they’ll be able to build a little rhythm and get past the Columbians.
Overall, the Stars and Stripes should finish undefeated and in first place in Pool C. However, the second spot is still really up for grabs. Looking ahead, if the Americans do get the top spot in Pool C, they would be taking on the runner-up of Pool D which is all more than likely going to be either Venezuela or Puerto Rico.