Gamethread 3/21: USA at Japan — WBC Final

Mar 21, 2023 - 10:00 PM
MLB: Spring Training-<a href=Philadelphia Phillies at Toronto Blue Jays" src="" />
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been an exciting World Baseball Classic, and after last night’s walk-off win by Japan over Mexico, it comes down to this:

USA, going for their second WBC title after winning the last one in 2017
Japan, going for their third — they won the first two WBCs, in 2006 and 2009

Team USA

All three Phillies are in the lineup tonight in Miami, and batting 5-6-7. Veteran Merill Kelly of the Diamondbacks gets the start on the mound:

(In addition to the Phillies on the roster, the USA team has one other local connection — manager Mark DeRosa, former Penn shortstop and quarterback who led them to two Ivy League football titles.)

Team Japan

While the overall level of play in Japan may be more equivalent to AAAA than the majors, their stars are certainly high caliber, and they have more of their them participating, particularly on the pitching side. Even before accounting for the fact that anything can happen in a one-game winner-take-all matchup, the Japan team is very strong and Team USA will have to play at a high level to hope to win.

The Japan lineup includes:

DH Shohei Ohtani.

Outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who signed with the Red Sox this off-season after four straight seasons of .950+ OPS, and who hit a game tying 3-run HR in yesterday’s semifinal.

Third baseman Munetaka Murakami, named MVP the last two seasons, at ages 21 and 22. He hit the walk-off double off the center field wall last night to get Japan to the final.

Lars Nootbar, who was born in California but whose mother is Japanese, is the first to play for Japan’s national team by virtue of ancestry. He plays center field and leads off.

Manager Hideki Kuriyama had both Ohtani and Yu Darvish available on full rest, but he’s going with lefty Shota Imanaga to start the game. Per The Athletic, “Imanaga throws a heavy fastball with late ride — by raw stuff, it is one of the best fastballs in the WBC”. He pitched a no-hitter last year.

Ohtani and Darvish will presumably be ready to come out of the bullpen.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!