World Baseball Classic Semifinal: Netherlands vs Puerto Rico (March 20, 2017)

Projected Starters:  Netherlands (TBD) Puerto Rico: Jorge Lopez (1-1, 5.40 ERA MLB career)

Mexico WBC Puerto Rico Mexico Baseball
Puerto Rico’s starting pitcher Jorge Lopez delivers during the first inning of the game against Mexico of the World Baseball Classic in Guadalajara, Mexico, Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Luis Gutierrez)

The Netherlands and Puerto Rico will face each other tonight in the semifinal of the World Baseball Classic.  The winner will advance to face the winner of Tuesday’s semifinal between Japan and the United States.

The Netherlands 4-2 overall in the WBC so far, began the second round with a Japan 8-6, 11 inning loss to Japan before rebounding with back-to-back mercy rule victories over Israel 12-2 and Cuba 14-1, respectively.  The Netherlands also advanced to the semifinals in the 2013 World Baseball Classic and fell to the eventual champion Dominican Republic 4-1.

Puerto Rico, the 2013 WBC runner-up, is a perfect 6-0 in the tournament this year. Puerto Rico has outscored their opponents 51-15 in those six games.

24 year old right hander Jorge Lopez, is the scheduled starting pitcher for Puerto Rico.  Lopez has only pitched 10 innings at the major league level in his career.  Lopez is 1-0 in the WBC after picking up a win in his only appearance against Mexico when he allowed only one run over 4 1/3 innings while striking out five batters  March 11.

The Netherland has not yet announced a starting pitcher at this time but there a chance former big-leaguer Rick Van den Hurk could take the mound. Van den Hurk who not pitched in the major leagues since 2012, has 1-0 record and  6.43 E.R.A in two starts in the current WBC.

The 2017 World Baseball Classic has been a great run for The Netherland , but I am not going against the team from Puerto Rico -151 .  Puerto Rico has more star power and has been dominate against better competition so far.

My prediction:
Puerto Rico 9 Netherlands 5

Twitter @GetSportsstrong (Get Sports Strong)


World Baseball Classic Pool F Second Round Preview

If you are a baseball fan and haven’t been watching the World Baseball Classic then you have definitely been missing some of the most entertaining games you may see all season. There has been a lot of emotion, pride and passion played in these games that you usually don’t see in the typical regular season baseball game. And I personally love the bat flipping by Team Puerto Rico.

The original field of 16 teams has now been cut down to eight teams. In Pool E you have Cuba, Israel, Japan and the Netherlands. In Pool F, you have a field loaded with superstars and talent, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the United States.

Pool F will kick off the second round today with a rematch of the 2013 WBC final match-up between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Both teams went 3-0 in round one with Puerto Rico arguably being the tournaments most impressive team so far, winning each game by an average of over seven runs, outscoring opponents 29-7. Puerto Rico’s lineup is lead by stars Carlos Beltran, Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Javier Baez and Yadier Molina.

Things were a little more dramatic for the Dominican Republic we had 10-3, 11 inning win over Colombia, and a 7-5 win over the United States were the Dominicans can back from a 5-0 deficit, highlight by the four runs allowed by United States pitcher Andrew Miller in the bottom of the 8th inning. The Dominican Republic is lead by a lineup that includes Starling Marte, Manny Machado, Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista and Robinson Cano. SUB-WBC-jumbo

The United States and Venezuela will play their first game of the second round on Wednesday, March 15. Among the four teams in Pool F Venezuela, had the toughest time advancing, after a 4-3 tiebreaker when over Team Italy. The tiebreaker game however was decided based on a tiebreaker that Venezuela gained over Mexico, following Mexico’s 11-9 victory over Venezuela. Venezuela held the tiebreaker edge over because defensive runs allowed per inning. The Venezuela allowed 1.11 to Mexico’s 1.12 runs per inning.

This is a tough pool to predict, all four teams are capable of advancing. Currently team Venezuela appeared the most vulnerable in round one, but the lineup is loaded in talent including MLB stars like Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, Carlos Gonzalez, Marin Prado, Alcides Escobar, Rugged Odor and Victor Martinez.

The United States may have the top pitching staff in the tournament at least on paper led by Chris Archer, Marcus Stroman and Danny Duffy. The USA lineup has no shortage of superstars either with Ian Kinsler, Nolan Arenado, Adam Jones, Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, Buster Posey and Eric Hosmer.

There is very little room for error in Pool F as wins will be hard to come by. While every WBC game looks to be up for grabs and risky for bettors, I strongly suggest the World Baseball Classic as must see television for any baseball fan.

Pool F Schedule

Game 1

Dominican Republic vs Puerto Rico Tues Mar 14 9:00 PM EDT

Game 2

Venezuela vs United States Wed, Mar 15 9:00 PM EDT

Game 3

Venezuela vs Dominican Republic Thu, Mar 16 10:00 PM EDT

Game 4

United States vs Puerto Rico Fri, Mar 17 10:00 PM EDT

Game 5

Puerto Rico vs Venezuela Sat, Mar 18 3:30 PM EDT

Game 6

United States vs Dominican Republic Sat, Mar 18 10:00 PM EDT