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.
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 Archer, Marcus 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…