Anytime the World Baseball Classic occurs, team USA will be considered a favorite. While the past two WBC’s have not turned out the way team USA has wanted, we don’t yet know about this year. The offense should be loaded with the likes of Ryan Braun, Giancarlo Stanton and Joe Mauer. What about the pitching?
Well, good starting pitching, especially in a tournament like this, is critical. Team USA’s starters are R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Vogelsong, Derek Holland and Ross Detwiler. Now, if you were to make a list of the top five American starting pitchers, would any of those guys be on it? Maybe Dickey or Gonzalez can sneak into the top five but that’s about it.
What about the bullpen? Well, Craig Kimbrel may be the best closer in the game right now and is the closer for the United States. The rest of the bullpen is a bit questionable. You need a strong bullpen, especially with the pitch count limits in place. Heath Bell had a horrendous 2012 and is on the team. Steve Cishek is young and unproven and is on the team. There’s a lot of interesting setup guys like Tim Collins and Vinne Pestano, however, neither has pitched in a playoff kind of game, which every game in the WBC is.
Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain and Stephen Strasburg won’t be walking through the door. Team USA will have to make do with what they have on the pitching front. Will it be enough? We’ll find out.