Team Canada’s roster for this year’s World Baseball Classic tourney will be lacking quality front-of-the-rotation arms, and will be forced to rely on less-than-household names to shut down the opposition.
If Team Canada hopes to be crowned victorious, their bats must do the talking, as the team boasts MLB players like Joey Votto, Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie, Russell Martin and Michael Saunders.
Their rotation will be comprised of mainly of minor leaguers, with a few players experiencing cups of coffee in the show. It isn’t as if arms don’t prosper north of the border; however, there are some quality arms that opted not to participate due to personal choice or injury.
Boston Red Sox veteran pitcher Ryan Dempster once again shunned Team Canada, making it the third tournament in a row he has refused to offer his services. Minnesota Twins 2012 pitcher of the year Scott Diamond is rehabbing from an injury and is not available. Canadian veterans Erik Bedard and Jeff Francis are focusing on earning a roster spot with their respective new teams.
That leaves Canada with Chris Leroux, Shawn Hill, Jameson Taillon, Phillippe Aumont and Trystan Magnuson to piece together the rotation. If in fact the above five are slated to start in the tourney, they will bring a combined 335 innings of major league experience, with 242 of those innings belonging to Hill.
If Canada can secure a lead, the bullpen should be a strength, with the Milwaukee Brewers tandem of John Axford and Jim Henderson complimented by Jesse Crain and Scott Mathieson holding down the fort in the late innings.
Regardless of the starting staff, this will be the best squad Canada has fielded for a World Baseball Classic, and the group has a chance to put Canada on the baseball map in front of a world stage.