Defending champion Dominican Republic (DOM) will meet this year’s favorite, the United States (USA), in early World Baseball Classic Pool C action today (6.30pm ET, Saturday). This could prove a preview of the championship final.
The DOM team opened up their schedule with a dominating 9-2 victory over Canada on Thursday night. The team put up a four-spot in the second inning and never trailed in the game. Overall, the Dominican Republic had 15 hits, with Jose Reyes and Joey Bautista (pictured) each leading the way with three apiece. The team also had five extra base hits including Bautista’s three-run home run in the sixth inning.
The United States meanwhile, opted to make things interesting, needing 10 innings to finish off Columbia in their Friday night game. Pitching was the theme of this one as the two teams combined for just five runs on 11 hits. Columbia got on the board first with two in the fifth, followed up by the U.S. getting two of their own in the next inning. Ian Kinsler and Adam Jones led the team with two hits apiece with Jones responsible for a double in the first, one of just two extra base hits the team had all game.
It was not exactly the start the American squad had hoped for and the team knows they’ll have to bring their A-game when they take on the Dominican Republic today.
Breaking Down Team DOM
A roster that could be the most stacked the D.R. has had in World Baseball Classic history, there is not much this team isn’t poised to do well. Defensively, this is the most athletic team in the tournament as they boast more than 11 gold glove awards, including five of which come from Adrian Beltre (1-for-3; one run, one RBI), who is making his Classic return for the first time since the inaugural 2006 event. Joining him in the infield is Manny Machado (2-for-5; one run), who has been a consistent defender at the short stop position for most of his young career.
One of the other assets to the Dominican team’s defensive prowess is the presence of Pittsburgh Pirates’ outfielders, Gregory Polanco (2-for-4; one run, one RBI) and Starling Marte, who make up two thirds of one of MLB’s best outfields. Polanco finished last season with a .977 fielding percentage in left field, where he spent the majority of the season and Marte hit around the same mark when he played in left.
Of course, defensive abilities aside, the biggest thing the Dominican Republic team has going for them is at the plate as offensively and especially with power-hitting, not even the U.S. roster can match what the D.R.’s roster can do with a bat. Five players on the team hit at least 30 home runs last season and that doesn’t even include the production that came from veteran power hitter Bautista, whose four RBI is just one behind the five leaders, all of whom have played three games to Bautista’s one. Bautista also currently leads in OBP (.800) among competitors who have more than one at bat.
Perhaps the only thing that could keep this Dominican team from winning back-to-back titles is their pitching, which lacks depth compared to some of their opponents. A strong bullpen could be key and the DOM team just doesn’t have that at their disposal. They’ll be relying on their hitting to make up for where their pitching lacks.
Breaking Down Team USA
Believe it or not but the red, white and blue has never won the World Baseball Classic. Even more disappointing however, the United States has never even medaled in the event, finishing at best in fourth.
This year though, could very well be different as Team USA is comprised of some of the best young talent in the game today, both on the mound and at the plate. In fact, this is the deepest and best roster the U.S. has produced and it is the one that has the team with its best chance to win in Classic history. Whether that means this preview thinks they can take this game is still up in the air and we will weigh up all options when we finish this article with our betting predictions and picks.
While the U.S. squad didn’t show much in the way of its offensive production on Friday night, this is an incredibly talented roster, complete with power hitters and situational hitters. With left handed and right handed bats, there really is no easy out in this lineup and manager Jim Leyland will make the most of that as he navigates his team through a tough field.
Perhaps the biggest X-factor for Team USA is the return of Giancarlo Stanton, who missed the last classic. Stanton is one of the best all-around players in the game and is coming off a season where he hit 27 home runs while playing in only 119 games. Stanton has never hit less than 20 home runs in a season and he’s never had less than 40 extra base hits in a single season either. If Stanton can get hot, the U.S. has a real ace in the hole.
Speaking of aces, the U.S. boasts a strong starting staff, which rivals any other team in the tournament. It could be even stronger by the next round as roster additions are rumored and names like Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw are being thrown around to join an already strong starting five including Chris Archer, who pitched four scoreless innings against Columbia, and Danny Duffy, who will be starting today’s game.
Our Preview’s USA vs Dominican Republic Picks & Betting Predictions
The United States has notoriously underachieved throughout the history of the World Baseball Classic, failing to medal in any of the first four tournaments. They have just a 10-10 record, however did manage to open on the sportsbooks as favorites. Following movement however, the U.S. are now +250 joint-favorites with, you guessed it, the Dominican Republic, who is 14-4 all time. As for this preview’s predictions and betting picks for this game:
- Both teams currently sit on the moneyline at a slightly ungenerous -115 with the bookies. Those odds might improve to -110 apiece, but as for the winner, it’s hard to pick against the Dominican Republic. Their roster is one of the best in the tournament and they are coming off a strong first round performance against Canada. The U.S. should be able to put up a decent effort, but in the end, bet on the DOM team to win again @ -115 with either Bovada or BetOnline, continuing its undefeated streak from four years ago.
- At time of writing, one firm does have a total runline set at nine. Both of these teams are stacked with power and strong hitting so expect that number to top the nine predicted @ -125 with BetOnline.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.