Nationals Arm Race

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

WBC Round 1 Review and Round 2 Predictions



Some major surprises in round 1 of the World Baseball Classic (WBC).  Lets quickly review what happened and then make some educated guesses about Round 2.

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

Here were my predictions for the four groups in Round 1:

  • Predictions for Advancers from Pool A: South Korea, Netherlands
  • Predictions for Advancers from Pool B: Japan, Cuba
  • Predictions for Advancers from Pool C: USA, DR.
  • Predictions for Advancers from Pool D: Mexico, Venezuela

Round 2 starts before round 1 ends, so this post will be slightly delayed waiting for the final Pool C/D results, but my predictions for Round 2 will have already been written.

Actual Results

  • Pool A: Israel and Netherlands.  In a huge shock, hosts South Korea were surprised by Israel to open the tourney, then were blanked by a Netherlands team that may be a dark horse to win this thing.  Two games in and both the Netherlands and Israel were 2-0, ensuring advancement.  Korea beats Chinese Taipei to at least salvage 3rd place so they don’t have to re-qualify, but this is a huge upset for the former Runners-up.  Israel topped the Netherlands after both had already advanced, though there’s no real advantage to finishing 1st or 2nd.
  • Pool B: Japan and Cuba.  The two favorites both advanced, though Cuba had to hold off a pesky Australia in the do-or-die game.  As might have been predicted, China finished dead last, scoring just one run in 3 games.  Japan scored 22 runs in three games to easily advance.
  • Pool C: went basically chalk, with the US and DR winning their opening games, Columbia securing 3rd place over doormats Canada and the DR beating USA in their big-time matchup.  However that tells little of the story; Columbia’s Jose Quintana shut down the US team with nearly 6 no-hit innings and they needed extra innings to advance.  Then in the US-DR game, the USA took advantage of some sloppy fielding to take a commanding 5-0 lead in the game, only to watch our own Tanner Roark get battered around and then World Series hero Andrew Miller cough up not one but two homers to lose the lead and the game 7-5.  Columbia hung tough with the DR, taking them to extra innings before caputulating and giving up 7 in the 10th to make the score look like a blowout.  The US finally broke out while destroying Canada, scoring 7 runs in the first two innings.  US and DR advance.
  • Pool D: Italy kicked off the group with yet another stunning upset, rallying for 4 runs in the 9th to beat group favorite Mexico.  Meanwhile Puerto Rico put a beat-down on group favorite Venezuela, surprising me and shaking up the group.  Venezuela then beat Italy in a win-or-go-home game by the amazing score of 11-10 in extra innings, a game that featured massive swings and should be an instant classic.  Puerto Rico calmly advanced past Mexico, putting themselves in the drivers seat and sending the Mexicans home early.  I had Puerto Rico finishing third; instead they go 3-0 and top the group.  In the pool’s final game, Mexico saved some face and downed Venezeula, meaning all three teams finished with a meager 1-2 record.  Italy and Venezuela advanced to a “tiebreaker” game by virtue of being less awful in the pool than Mexico and headed to a playoff.  In the final 1st round game, Venezuela needed a 3-run rally in the 9th to surpass Italy and advance.


Round 2 Predictions:

Pool E: the two advancing teams from each of the Far East pools, hosted at the Tokyo Dome: Netherlands, Israel, Japan and Cuba.

Israel already proved their mettle, though their decider against the Netherlands may not have had the same import had it been a win-or-go-home game.  I think on paper its still Japan and the Netherlands with the most talent.  Cuba advanced but seems to be the weakest of the bunch.  I’ll go with my gut and predict that Japan and the Netherlands advance, with the Netherlands beating Israel when it counts.

Pool F: the two advancing teams from the Northern Hemisphere pools, hosted at Petco Park in San Diego: DR, USA, Puerto Rico, Venezuela

The DR looks unstoppable and the USA was just an inning or two from beating the DR themselves.  Venezeula limped into the final round and seems like its just too old of a squad.  The big game will be US-Puerto Rico to see who joins the DR in San Diego.  I’m still not entirely convinced that the US will advance (since they never have before), but on paper they look so much better than Puerto Rico.  I’ll go DR and USA.



Written by Todd Boss

March 14th, 2017 at 8:32 am

21 Responses to 'WBC Round 1 Review and Round 2 Predictions'

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  1. The U.S. odds should be improved measurably by playing 2,500 miles away from the Caribbean, instead of playing essentially three hostile-environment road games like they did in Miami.

    And Beware the Ides of March, particularly if you’re Derek Norris. The Nats are apparently still trying to get a couple of broken bats for him from the Rays but will have to release him today if not or be on the hook for his full salary.


    15 Mar 17 at 7:53 am

  2. Norris released. Still not losing any sleep over it. Here was Boz’s take from Monday:


    15 Mar 17 at 11:50 am

  3. I’ll quibble with Boswell’s comment that the “nats did right by Norris” with this release timing. Uh, wasn’t the release timing *entirely* about the team only having to pay 700k veruss his entire year’s salary? I call BS on that one; if that date was 3/31 to save $3.9M instead of 3/15, he’d be sitting on his ass on our bench until 3/31. why? Because anything can happen between now and opening day, and if Wieters/Lobaton goes down with injury tomorrow they’re going to wish Norris was still sitting on their payroll.

    Todd Boss

    15 Mar 17 at 12:01 pm

  4. The detail that troubled me most about Norris wasn’t giving up Avila to get him, or even his .186 BA (which was pretty troubling). It was the fact that the Nats were going to be on the hook for $4.2M for a guy coming off a .186. In fact, there was a lot of talk at the time that the Pads were going to non-tender him, which would have made him available for a lot less. And “a lot less” is what he’ll have to sign for now, somewhere. I guess he could still re-sign with the Nats, but that would be highly doubtful.

    Now what to do about that 1B who is hitting .000 . . . Too bad he doesn’t have one of those NFL contracts that is only guaranteed for two years.


    15 Mar 17 at 12:29 pm

  5. Remember KW: spring training stats don’t matter. So who cares if our 1B is hitting .000 right?

    Todd Boss

    15 Mar 17 at 12:39 pm

  6. Stop the presses: Zim got a hit! Now up to .056 . . .

    I’m not a Zim hater at all. I just don’t know what the answer is, not that anyone else does, either. Lind was a nice piece of insurance.


    15 Mar 17 at 2:15 pm

  7. Meanwhile, another very ugly outing for Cole. I think we can cross him off the “long man” list.

    Cole is one who has looked so promising for so long but just never figured it all out. The Nats have continued to try to keep him as a starter, I guess since starters have more value, but there doesn’t seem to be much left for him but the ‘pen. After how poorly he performed when called up last season (and the year before), I can’t imagine why they would still look to him as a sixth starter in waiting.


    15 Mar 17 at 2:47 pm

  8. A bit of hometown pride here but the DR got stopped last night 3-1.


    15 Mar 17 at 5:13 pm

  9. Yeah, the PR win over DR brings up the possibility of the unthinkable: DR not advancing. It would be a nice bit of revenge for the U.S. to apply the dagger. The U.S. needs to take care of business tonight first, though.


    15 Mar 17 at 5:51 pm

  10. I’ll admit fully that I’m shocked by how well Puerto Rico is playing.

    Todd Boss

    16 Mar 17 at 1:53 pm

  11. Elsewhere in the WBC, Robertson has been shaky in multiple outings, making me even less interested in him.

    Meanwhile, I know spring is just the spring, but Glover has been lights out. I don’t know that they’ll make him the closer out of the spring, but it’s going to be hard to send him down.


    16 Mar 17 at 8:30 pm

  12. Huge game for the U.S. tonight. It would be much preferable to beat PR and secure advancement rather than go into the DR game with a likely do-or-die scenario for both teams. (Although I’m not sure who would advance if DR, PR, and US all end up 2-1.)

    It would also be good if Murphy and Roark get to play! Roark isn’t getting “stretched out” at all, and Murphy is getting nothing but BP swings. What a waste for both of them, at least thus far.


    17 Mar 17 at 8:54 am

  13. With Rizzo continuing to talk up Romero, you have to wonder whether they’re going to keep a “long man” at all. Kelley, Treinen, Solis, Perez, and Blanton figure to be locks for the bullpen. That leaves two spots. They may have thought that they would option Glover at the start of the year, but he’s looked better than anyone else. Romero has no options left.

    Meanwhile, no one has particularly seized the long man role. Cole has been rocked in three of his four appearances. Worley and Turner have been shaky at times. Guthrie may have been the best of the lot thus far, at least if you exclude Voth (who has already been optioned) or Fedde (who figures to get stretched out and more seasoning in the minors). Would Worley, Turner, and Guthrie all be willing to go to Syracuse?

    Or they could cut Perez in favor of keeping Romero, but they’d have to eat $4M on Perez.

    A ‘pen without a true long man might not be an issue, though, at least until a sixth starter is needed. Perez, Blanton, and Solis can all go multiple innings, and Treinen could as well.


    17 Mar 17 at 10:35 am

  14. The DL is now 10 days. Basically, 1 start. Don’t really need an emergency starter and can manage long relief as described above. If desperate for bullpen help, just put a floundering starter on the DL for 1 start. Is the long reliever position gone now?


    17 Mar 17 at 10:47 am

  15. If the “best 25” go north, I’m not sure that any of the long-man candidates are “better” than Glover or Romero. Now, one of them may be better than Ollie Perez, but eating his $4M contract isn’t tasty, and none of them are lefties.

    But then my name’s not Rizzo, Baker, or Maddux.

    Good point about the 10-day DL. And with one off day in the first week, the Nats technically wouldn’t need a fifth starter until nearly day 10. Of course Scherzer would be the mostly likely starter for the DL, and the least likely to go willingly!


    17 Mar 17 at 11:29 am

  16. One of those last two bullpen slots will almost certainly go to Romero. The Nats won’t want to lose such a live arm unless and until he proves to them that he can’t get the job done in the regular season. As for Glover, the only way I can see him beating out Worley or Guthrie is if the team has decided that he’s ready to be the closer right now. Otherwise, his option status gives them the flexibility to keep one of the older guys.

    There’s no real rush with Glover. His time will come soon, even if he doesn’t make the initial cut.

    Karl Kolchak

    17 Mar 17 at 7:42 pm

  17. Todd–on Norris, I agree that what Boswell wrote is BS. How is likely costing Norris a couple of million in salary “doing right” by him? He’s going to end up as a backup somewhere else anyway, and for a lot less money that the Nats would have ended up paying him, even with their $700K in his pocket.

    Karl Kolchak

    17 Mar 17 at 7:46 pm

  18. U.S. loses sloppy game to PR, digs must-win hole. Revenge against DR would be sweet, though. And hey, Roark is fresh! (What a waste it has been to have Roark and Murphy on the team. Almost makes me want the U.S. to get eliminated so they can get back to proper season preparation.)

    As for Glover, I completely understand the numbers game. I also know for a fact that he’s one of the top seven bullpen arms the Nats have. Dusty knows that, too. It will be interesting to see what they do.

    If they do send Glover to Syracuse, it had better be with orders to not overwork him. I was horrified at how many times I saw him being used for multiple innings in the minors last year. That’s what org guys for.

    With Romero, I wonder whether he’s more H-Rod than legit. He walked 5.5 guys per nine innings last year and had a 5.91 ERA. It doesn’t matter if you throw 99 or 109 if you can’t control it. If he pans out, great, but I’m not holding my breath.

    If they do keep a long man, I would guess that Guthrie has nudged into the lead. Cole has all but eliminated himself, and I would imagine that they would prefer that Turner stretch out as a starter at Syracuse. That leaves Worley and Guthrie.


    18 Mar 17 at 8:03 am

  19. KW–Agreed that Glover at Syracuse should be used strictly as the closer and not overworked. That would actually be a danger if he stays in the bigs and isn’t the closer. Dusty overused Rivero last year precisely because he had more trust in him, but that heavy workload for a guy whose injury history meant he wasn’t used to it likely caused his dip in performance before he got traded. Glover is certainly one of the team’s 7 best relievers right now, but I’d prefer that he be available and effective in September and hopefully October rather than making 25 appearances before Memorial Day and getting burned out.

    Karl Kolchak

    18 Mar 17 at 12:18 pm

  20. OK, U.S. advances, but Roark and Murphy don’t play at all. PLEASE let them come back to FLA and actually start getting ready for the season. (Meanwhile, Clip nearly blows it.)

    Closer to home, I jinxed Glover. Sorry about that. I guess Dusty needs to see how he responds to adversity, though.

    Meanwhile, in the bullpen discussions, I keep neglecting to mention Nathan, who had a clean inning yesterday. I’m not particularly a fan of the 42-year-old idea, but as much as Dusty loves veterans, I wouldn’t put it past him to keep Nathan.


    19 Mar 17 at 7:40 am

  21. Clearly having Murphy on the WBC team given Kinsler’s presence was/is a waste. And why bring along a starter (Roark) if you’ve got 3 starters and a bunch of relievers and therefore never use him?

    Remember my post about hating it when our pitchers are involved with WBC?

    Todd Boss

    19 Mar 17 at 10:25 am

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