Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

WBC Round 2 Results and Round 3 predictions



The USA has never advanced past the 2nd round of the WBC before, and they get a clutch performance to beat the defending champs (and best team on paper) to advance in 2017.  Here’s a quick review of the Round 2 results and a look ahead/predictions for round 3.

(quick links for the WBC:   Official site here, wikipedia site here with schedules, and another wiki site here with rosters).

Predictions for round 2:

Round 2 Results:

Pool E: Predicted Japan and the Netherlands

Actuals: Israel continued its hot streak early and downed Cuba in what I predict is the 3rd place game, while Japan held serve and beat the Netherlands in extras.  Netherlands turned around the next day and destroyed Israel, handing them their first tourney loss.  Japan handled Cuba to more or less guarantee it spot in the WBC finals on 3/14/17.  On the pool’s final day, the Netherlands destroyed Cuba 14-1 while Japan remained undefeated and my predictions held out; Japan and Netherlands advance to the final round.

Pool F: Predicted DR and USA.

Actuals: Puerto Rico played an inspired game and downed the DR in the first pool game, which puts the DR’s chances of advancing in jeopardy early.  USA held serve and beat Venezuela on a couple of late homers and then the DR beat Venezuela the next night to essentially eliminate them.  The DR needs some help; they would be benefitted by a USA loss to Puerto Rico …. which they got.  The US kept trying to catch up but could never recover from an early 4-0 deficit and dropped a 6-5 decision to Puerto Rico to guarantee PR’s advancement and to setup a do-or-die rematch between USA and DR.  In that game, US starter Danny Duffy wiggled out of jams early and the US’s big bats came through and they downed the defending champs DR 4-2 to advance to their first finals.  Puerto Rico and USA advance.

(tangent; really?  Danny Duffy?  That’s the best starter the US could come up with?  The USA’s three primary starters in this tourney were Chris ArcherMarcus Stroman and Duffy.  Here’s a quick link to 2016’s fangraphs pitcher WAR leaders and thus here’s a quick list of all the US-born players they could have selected ahead of any of these three guys: Kershaw, Snydergaard, Scherzer (who we know was set to attend but got injured), Porcello, Verlander, Sale, Kluber, Bumgarner, Price (also currently injured), Hendricks, Lester, Strasburg, Hill, Arrieta, Grey.  Stroman was 21st in the majors in pitcher WAR last year, behind every one of these guys.  I mean, come on.  How can we alter this event so that the US can put out a rotation of Kershaw, Snydergaard and Bumgarner??)

Round 3 Predictions:

Now we’re to the semis.  Honestly I think the two best teams are unfortunately matched up against each other in the first semi (Netherlands and Puerto Rico).  I’ll go with the Netherlands in one semi, the USA in the other, and then the Netherlands to beat the US in the final.

ps. Yes I agree with all prior commenters; having Daniel Murphy and Tanner Roark on this team has been a complete waste.  I just hope it doesn’t affect their regular seasons…

16 Responses to 'WBC Round 2 Results and Round 3 predictions'

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  1. And now Roark is getting the start in the semi after being ignored throughout the tourney? I hope he’s been throwing A LOT of bullpens and stretching out.

    All I can say is that if they were looking to grow interest in the WBC, about the worst thing they could have done was put much of it on the West Coast, which they compounded by giving the U.S. the late games. Plus they’ve gotten zero coverage going up against March Madness.

    Still, it would be nice for the U.S. to win, even if no one notices. Any chance they could fly Kershaw in for the final?!


    20 Mar 17 at 8:00 am

  2. Two very important additional points about WBC’s existing issues:
    – head to head with March Madness
    – West coast games.

    So dumb. Now, if they put it in November like I think they should, they’d compete with NFL and NCAA football, but only on weekend games. Otherwise they’d have week day nights ok. They’d still be playing a lot of west coast games since its only really nice in Florida, Arizona, southern California at that point.

    But … what is the salient purpose of the WBC? To grow the game. As much as I’d like to see it be the “World Cup” of baseball … we’re not there yet. The World Cup of soccer first was held in 1930, but really wasn’t a true world tournament until 1950 (partly because of WWII) … so it takes time.

    Todd Boss

    20 Mar 17 at 11:06 am

  3. Todd, I think you’ve picked against PR in every round. Should the U.S. beat Japan, *please* pick PR to win in the final!


    21 Mar 17 at 7:42 am

  4. Back with the home team, the Nats’ “long man” options aren’t looking great, pressing the question of whether they *really* need a long man. If they keep Romero, there’s only one spot left. As things stand, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to keep Worley, Guthrie, or Cole over Glover. After all, Perez or Blanton could go a couple of innings at a time if need be. So could Treinen or Solis for that matter.

    As for the only other contested roster spot, Taylor seems destined to make the big club. Sign. Goodwin hasn’t had a good spring. The only other options might be Difo in his super-utility role (he’s been playing some CF) or Brandon Snyder.


    21 Mar 17 at 7:46 am

  5. Err, “sigh” on Taylor, not “sign” I really don’t hate Taylor, although a lot of people think I do. I would be as pleased as anyone if he truly has adjusted his swing, reduced his K rate, and turned himself into a viable player. He’s got a significantly higher-ceiling “tool” set than many other options, including Difo, maybe even including Robles (although Robles has age significantly in his favor). But Taylor’s not going to stick in the big leagues, at least not with a contending club, while striking out a third of the time. And history generally suggests that at some point, he is who his regular-season stats say he is.


    21 Mar 17 at 8:49 am

  6. I know! I just can’t believe PR keeps winning with such thin pitching as compared to the other teams. I also thought Netherlands was the hot hand and would have picked PR to beat both USA and Japan.

    Todd Boss

    21 Mar 17 at 11:16 am

  7. Taylor as 4th OF; it is what it is. I think Baker likes him and the team did little to bring in competition. Maybe indeed they think robles is going to race though hte systme and be an option by Sept.

    Todd Boss

    21 Mar 17 at 11:17 am

  8. Robles isn’t that close. He’s had less than half a season at Potomac. He barrels up the ball extremely well and has a low K rate, but he’s got a good bit to learn fundamentals-wise, particularly in base running and on defense. I would call it a good year for him if he gets half a season at Harrisburg and plays in the AZ Fall League. I think they’ll start him back at Potomac. It would be very aggressive of the organization if they skip him on to Hagerstown to start the season.

    The guy who might be in a position to make a contribution in late 2017 would be Stevenson. Whether they would jump him over Goodwin and Bautista, I don’t know. Goodwin had a real chance this spring and hasn’t taken advantage of it. Dusty now seems fond of Bautista, but he seems pretty limited beyond the big SB totals.


    21 Mar 17 at 12:01 pm

  9. It is curious that the Nats didn’t bring in a little OF competition for Taylor and Goodwin, isn’t it? With den Dekker gone (signed with Marlins), they’re thin in OF depth in the upper minors.

    As for CF, I do think they start the season with the conga line of Bautista at Syracuse, Stevenson at Harrisburg, and Robles at Potomac. The projected Potomac OF could be interesting with Robles, Wiseman, and Agustin. I’m hoping things click this year for Wiseman. He very quietly had 13 HRs and 25 doubles at Hagerstown, and lowered his K rate under 20%. In a system desperate for power, he’s a somewhat overlooked glimmer of hope.


    21 Mar 17 at 12:39 pm

  10. It does look like MAT on the roster, and if it helps Dusty sub for Werth Kate in games, I’m ok with it. But I’m really becoming intrigued with Difo’s super sub potential. Maybe start him in AAA and rotate positions for half a year, then bring him up.

    If the Nats underperform this year, and it’s a real possibility, in my mind it will be the SPs that are the reason. Don’t know why, just have a feeling.


    21 Mar 17 at 12:42 pm

  11. Wally; why would the starting rotation under perform? Scherzer’s got a broken finger, Strasburg coming off of season-ending elbow injury, Ross missed half of last season, Roark has throw like 5 innings so far this spring thanks to the WBC, and Gio has regressed every year since his 20-win season. Oh and whatever you think of Giolito and Lopez, they’re not here anymore, so we have no depth. And by “no depth” I mean “no depth that i’m confident can throw a quality start at hte major league level tomorrow.”

    No reason at all to be worried!

    Todd Boss

    21 Mar 17 at 12:57 pm

  12. Todd – yeah, kind of like that. :-). Roark’ s lack of use and Max’s injury/big use last year are maybe the top two.

    And I still have questions about how good Ross actually is.

    But on the plus side, I feel pretty good about Voth!


    21 Mar 17 at 6:59 pm

  13. Well, Roark seems pretty solid, at least for 50 pitches! What a great outing by him, with four scoreless innings in 48 pitches. Alas, the NL MVP runner-up remains glued to the pine.

    Todd, you’re picking PR in the final, right?


    22 Mar 17 at 5:16 am

  14. U.S. wins! Murphy doesn’t play! I didn’t see any of it! Looks like PR’s lack of pitching finally caught up with it. I thought the same thing might happen to the U.S., particularly considering how Stroman got rocked in his last start.

    Oh well, at least Murph and Tanner didn’t get hurt. They also got embarrassingly few reps. Murph won’t be the only one trying to find his hitting stroke, though. The Nats have a number of regulars hitting near or below the Mendoza line for the spring.

    Meanwhile, there seems to be increasing buzz about Glover. Dusty may be reluctant to make him the closer right out of camp, but it sounds like they may not want to stash him at Syracuse, either.


    23 Mar 17 at 5:10 am

  15. ABs during tourney: Bregman, 4; Harrison, 5; Murphy, 6; Lucroy, 11; Goldschmidt, 13. The Nats aren’t the only ones who should be PO’d about the treatment of their players.


    23 Mar 17 at 7:58 am

  16. […] the semis: I predicted that the Netherlands and USA would advance, with the Netherlands winning the whole thing.  So what […]

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