USA baseball’s quest to repeat as World Baseball Classic champion kicks off on Saturday when the Americans take on Great Britain in the first game of Pool C play.
USA vs Great Britain
How to Watch:
- Date: Saturday, March 11th
- Time: 9 p.m. ET
- Channel: FOX
- RF Mookie Betts (Dodgers)
- CF Mike Trout (Angels)
- DH Pete Alonso (Mets)
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals)
- 3B Nolan Arenado (Cardinals)
- LF Kyle Tucker (Astros)
- SS Trea Turner (Phillies)
- C J.T. Realmuto (Phillies)
- 2B Jeff McNeil (Mets)
SP: Adam Wainwright (Cardinals)
- C Harry Ford (Mariners prospect)
- CF Trayce Thompson (Dodgers)
- 1B B.J. Murray Jr. (Cubs prospect)
- DH Matt Koperniak (Cardinals prospect)
- SS Nick Ward (Athletics prospect)
- 3B Darnell Sweeney (Pirates)
- 2B Justin Wylie (no MLB affiliation)
- LF D’Shawn Knowles (Angels prospect)
- RF Anferneee Seymour (no MLB affiliation)
SP: Vance Worley
The USA comes into this year’s World Baseball Classic as the defending champions, winning the event in 2017 by beating Puerto Rico in the finals. So even though they are not the betting favorite, that honor falls to the Dominican Republic, they are certainly one of the teams with a good chance of taking home the title in 2o23.
As you can see above, the American offense will be one of the best in the tournament, featuring a collection of dynamic bats led by future Hall of Famer Mike Trout and perennially All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt, Trea Turner, Pete Alonso, Nolan Arenado, Kyle Schwarber, and Kyle Tucker to name a few.
They will certainly be a threat to score plenty of runs, especially on Saturday night, which is good because their rotation could be a problem.
A once-solid pitching staff was severely weakened with the withdrawals of Nestor Cortes and Clayton Kershaw. The USA replaced them with Nick Martinez and Merrill Kelly but will run out a combination of Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Kyle Freeland, Miles Mikolas, and Brady Singer. While each of them is a solid Major League pitcher, it’s not exactly a rotation that strikes fear in your heart.
The good news is that the USA will likely have a dominant bullpen led by Astros closer Ryan Pressly, Brewers closer Devin Williams, Pirates closer David Bednar, Rockies closer Daniel Bard, White Sox reliever Kendall Gravemen, Rays potential closer Jason Adam, and Mets reliever, and New York native, Adam Ottavino.
Their opponent on Saturday will be a Great Britain team that reached the World Baseball Classic for the first time after sweeping the qualifying round, beating France 14-4, Germany 8-1, and Spain 10-0.
Great Britain received its first invitation to the World Baseball Classic in 2013 after a solid 2009 showing in the World Cup bumped the team up in the International Baseball Federation world rankings. However, that first experience didn’t go well with the Brits unable to advance beyond qualification.
They had a better showing in qualifying in 2017. After losing to Israel 5-2 in the preliminaries, Great Britain advanced out of the lower bracket by beating Pakistan 14-0 and Brazil 4-3. However, they faced off with Israel again in the qualifier final and lost 9-1, preventing them from moving on to the big tournament.
While Great Britain is not loaded with MLB talents, there are a few recognizable names on the roster like Trayce Thompson, who hit .256/.353/.507 with 13 home runs and four steals in 2022 for the Padres and Dodgers.
Baseball fans will also soon know Harry Ford, who is one of the biggest prospects in baseball, ranking fourth on MLB Pipeline’s top catchers prospects list. He was the Seattle Mariners’ first-round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft and slashed .274/.425/.439 with 11 home runs and stole 23 bases in his first full season of professional baseball in 2022.
Elsewhere on the roster are a lot of former prospects who boast tremendous speed.
Angels’ international signee D’Shawn Knowles combined to swipe 22 bases and post a .262/.347/.334 slash line in 2022 between High-A and Class-A, while fellow outfielder Darnell Sweeney stole 48 bases back in 2013 in the Dodgers’ system. Infield prospect Lucius Fox has bounced around in his career, playing for the Giants, Rays, Royals, and now the Nationals. In 2019, he racked up 39 stolen bases, so if this team can find a way to get on base, they could cause some problems on the basepaths.
Unfortunately for Great Britain, their pitching staff has even more concerns than the USA’s staff. They will be led by Vance Worley, a retired former Major Leaguer with eight years of big league experience who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2011 when he posted a 3.01 ERA in 131.2 innings of work. Out of the bullpen, Great Britain will rely on Ian Gibaut who is a reliever for the Reds who pitched to a 4.67 ERA in 33 appearances with the club in 2022.
It’s hard to see a path for Great Britain here, even if Adam Wainwright is no longer the pitcher he used to be. The Brits may be able to scratch across a couple runs, but this USA lineup is going to be fair too talented to contain.