2023 World Baseball Classic Championship USA vs Japan Betting Preview
The 2023 World Baseball Classic has been a tournament for the ages. It is not even April, but we have already seen some of the best baseball games we will see played all year. The two finalists, the United States and Japan had the 2nd and 3rd shortest odds of winning the tournament before it started. Now, they face off tonight in the finals. Who’s going to win this monumental game in Miami? Let’s dive in.
2023 World Baseball Classic Finals – Odds
|World Baseball Classic Finals||Odds (Courtesy of DraftKings)|
|Run Line||USA -1.5 (+115) Japan +1.5 (-135)|
|Total||O/U 10 (-110)|
USA vs Japan 2023 World Baseball Classic Championship Analysis
In order to get to this point, the United States went 3-1 in pool play, beat Venezuela in a thriller, and blew the doors off of Cuba. Japan went 4-0 in pool play, beat Italy handily, and beat Mexico in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off hit in what was one of the most electric baseball games in recent memory. Despite the game being played in Miami, Japan is the home team for the 2023 World Baseball Classic final. This game is anticipated to become the most-viewed baseball game of all time, and we should be in for another instant classic.
Team USA Preview
When looking at the roster for the United States, the first thing that jumps off the page is their offensive firepower. In their last 18 innings of baseball, the United States has scored 23 runs. This lineup is so loaded that tournament MVP front-runner Trea Turner bats last. With such an impeccable collection of offensive talent, the United States is never out of any game. The United States was down 7-5 in the bottom of the 8th against Venezuela, but with one Trea Turner swing of the bat, they went up and went on to win 9-7.
The United States lineup for tonight is not out officially, but Mookie Betts is expected to get things started with Mike Trout, Paul Goldschmidt, and Nolan Arenado behind him. After Arenado, it should be Schwarber, Will Smith, Pete Alonso, Tim Anderson, then Trea Turner. Turner leads the World Baseball Classic in home runs with four and is second in RBIs with 10.
While it is clear that there is nothing to worry about offensively for the US, the concern for the US is its pitching staff. While a ton of star batters opted to play in the World Baseball Classic, the United States can certainly use more pitching. Veteran Merrill Kelly will take the mound for the United States tonight in Miami. In his lone start of the tournament against Colombia, Kelly allowed four hits, two earned runs, and two walks in three innings of work. Now that the limited pitch count is raised to 95, it would behoove the United States if Kelly could last more than five innings. The United States bullpen has been solid this tournament, but in a winner take all game, it would benefit the United States not to rely on a bunch of relievers to get it done.
Team Japan Preview
Japan is 6-0 in the World Baseball Classic, and they look to finish the tournament as champions with a perfect record. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Japan’s odds of winning it all before the tournament started were +270, so it is not a shock to see them succeed and make it to the finals. Japan cannot match the United States in star power – nobody can. However, this Japanese team plays with fire and is a worthy opponent of the United States.
Japan has kept a consistent lineup for the entire tournament, so their lineup is easy to predict. Lars Nootbaar should lead the way, with Kensuke Kondoh, Shohei Ohtani, and Masataka Yoshida filling out the top of the order. Munetaka Murakami, Kazuma Okamoto, Tetsuto Yamada, Sosuke Genda, and Yuhei Nakamura fill out the rest of the lineup for Japan. Yoshida, the soon-to-be Red Sox rookie, leads the World Baseball Classic in RBIs with 13. Kondoh, Japan’s right fielder and No. 2 hitter, is tied with the great Shohei Ohtani for the 2nd most doubles in the tournament with four.
Japan has Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish as great options to start tonight, but instead, it seems they are going with an opener approach for this final. Lefty Shota Imanaga is expected to make the start, and Ohtani and Darvish will be ready to come out of the bullpen for Japan. Imanaga has appeared in two games this tournament as a reliever, and he has allowed three hits and one run with five strikeouts in four innings of work. The one run he allowed was a home run against Korea in pool play.
USA vs Japan 2023 World Baseball Classic Championship
The 2023 World Baseball Classic has been an amazing tournament, and tonight’s championship game should be great. The United States lineup is unmistakably the best in the world, but Japan having Ohtani and Darvish waiting in the bullpen is a huge plus for Japan. Their starter, Imanaga, has been impressive, and if he can make it three innings without allowing a run, Japan will be in great shape. Of course, that is a tall order.
I backed the United States to win against Venezuela based solely on how good this US lineup is. The United States was just -135 there, and now, this same All-Star lineup is just -125 in the finals. However, the pitching the United States faces tonight will be hard to beat. Even if the United States gets on Imanaga early, Japan can quickly pivot to Ohtani or Darvish, and they will have the other one waiting in wings.
Merrill Kelly is solid, but I am certainly concerned with him on the mound. The United States bullpen is solid, but they used a lot of arms just three days ago, though their reliever’s pitch counts were relatively low. Still, I think there is more risk in backing Kelly than there is in backing Japan, even with an opener on the mound. Japan should keep this game close and may even pull off the upset as “home” underdogs.
Prediction: Japan +1.5 -135
2023 MLB Futures Package and Betting Guide
GoldSheet has released eight futures bets for the 2023 MLB season, so you can get that package here. Also, GoldSheet teamed up with handicappers from WagerTalk and Sportsmemo to produce a 105-page MLB betting guide for the 2023 season. Check out team previews, stat logs, division odds, win totals, and more to help you prepare for the upcoming baseball season.