The 2023 World Baseball Classic championship will be held on Tuesday, March 21. Team USA will take on Team Japan. First pitch from LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida is set for 7 p.m. ET, and the game will air on FS1. Arizona Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly gets the starting nod for the US, while Shoto Imanaga will be the starter for Team Japan.
The United States advanced to the championship game with a dominant semifinal win against Cuba. They won 14-2 and clobbered four total home runs. Trea Turner went deep twice, with Paul Goldschmidt and Cedric Mullins also tallying deep flies. Kelly last pitched against Colombia in pool play. He threw three innings and gave up four hits and two earned while striking out one.
Team Japan needed some late-inning theatrics to earn their win over Mexico in the semifinals. They were down one heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. Los Angeles Angels outfielder Shohei Ohtani doubled in the outfield gap, and new Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida drew a walk. NPB batting champ Munetaka Murakami hit a ball off the wall, scoring two for the walk-off win.
2023 World Baseball Classic Championship
USA vs. Japan
Odds: USA -140, Japan +120
Team Japan is arguably going to have the better pitching staff for the game. Imanaga has only pitched four innings this tournament but has been dominant. Whenever he is relieved, San Diego Padres starter Yu Darvish is expected to be first out of the pen, with Ohtani to follow. Team USA may need to yank Kelly early if he isn’t on his game. The bullpen arms have been much more reliable, giving the U.S. an advantage late game. This should be a great game overall. The narrow edge goes to Team USA because of their batting order. Turner has been mashing out of the 9-hole, and when you get that kind of production from the bottom of the order, you are tough to beat.