World Baseball Classic: Complete Projections for Pool A
Action in Pool A of the World Baseball Classic gets underway on March 2. If you are not familiar with the setup of the WBC, each pool consists of four teams. These four teams play a round-robin format, where the top two teams will advance into the next round. All games in the World Baseball Classic can be seen on MLB Network.
Here is a complete schedule of the action in Pool A, along with predictions for each game. All times are EST, and all games in Pool A will take place at the Fukuoka Dome in Japan.
March 2, 5:00 a.m.- Japan vs Brazil
March 2, 10:30 p.m.- Cuba vs Brazil
March 3, 5:00 a.m.- China vs Japan
March 4, 2:30 a.m.- China vs Cuba
March 5, 3:00 a.m.- Brazil vs China
March 6, 5:00 a.m.- Japan vs Cuba
The only country to ever win the World Baseball Classic is Japan, and the two-time defending champions are more than ready to defend their title again in 2013.
The Japanese squad features great power in its lineup, but once again its strength will be pitching. The ace of the staff is Masahiro Tanaka, and he will look to help carry a large part of the load for what is one of the best pitching staffs in the competition.
Japan will have a huge tilt with Cuba in the final game of Pool A play, but they should be able to take care of business against less superior competition when it comes to Brazil and China.
Two huge names, Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes, are missing from the Cuban roster. Both players have become instant stars in the major leagues, one of the reasons why Cuba is ranked as the No. 1 team in the world coming into this year's World Baseball Classic.
Regardless of the fact that Chapman and Cespedes are not on the roster, this is still an outstanding team. Jose Dariel Abreu will anchor a lineup that has some of the best power of any team in this year's tournament.
Who do you think will win Pool A?
Much like Japan, the Cuban team should have little trouble with Brazil and China, but it will have to bring its best game to the park when the Cubans face off with the Japanese.
The expectations for Brazil are very low at the World Baseball Classic. No one really even expected Brazil to qualify for this year's tournament.
The fact that the Brazilian team has to face off with two of the top teams in the world certainly will not benefit its chances at all. Still, look for Brazil to play relaxed and prove to be decent competition.
If Brazil can get just one win in this year's tournament, it would be a big step forward for baseball in the country. I fully expect them to get that victory, taking something extremely positive back home.
The Chinese team does not feature a lot of power in its lineup and will have to rely pretty heavily on pitching in the tournament this year. Unfortunately for China, it was put into a group with teams that really know how to smack the baseball around.
It could be a very tough few days for the Chinese team, but the Chinese have a chance to pick up a victory against the Brazil side. And who knows? Maybe they could turn in a solid pitching performance and sneak through the group, but the odds of that happening are not too bright for China.
Japan and Cuba are two of the powerhouses in this tournament and will ultimately be too strong for the Chinese and Brazilian sides. We may not see a lot of competition in some of the Pool A games, but Cuba and Japan will be a great battle to wrap up Pool A action.
Make sure to check back and see all the previews for each game of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
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