Team USA is scheduled to play its third game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic on Monday night, taking on Canada in what is now a pivotal contest. Regardless of how the Americans perform against their northern neighbors, one talking point is sure to endure: what, precisely, can Team USA do in order to persuade the country’s best pitchers to partake in the next WBC?
Let’s be clear: this conversation predates Team USA’s Sunday night loss against Mexico. We here at CBS Sports noted ahead of the American’s first WBC game, a win against Great Britain, that “if [the pitching staff] appears underwhelming relative to what it could be, that’s because it is. There’s no Max Scherzer or Shane McClanahan or even Spencer Strider. There’s no surefire ace type, in other words.” The Americans have since received subpar performances from starters Adam Wainwright and Nick Martinez, fueling the discourse.
One of those aforementioned missing aces, Scherzer, addressed his absence and what the WBC could do to lure the best Americans arms on Monday. “I’m not ready to step into a quasi-playoff game right now. If I do that, I’m rolling the dice with my arm,” he told reporters, including SNY.
Scherzer added that moving the WBC to the summer, after Major League Baseball’s season has gotten underway and pitchers have had time to stretch out their arms, would make the tournament more appealing.
“If the WBC was during the season, I think you would get more pitcher participation, and, more importantly, I think it’d be more exciting for the fans because you’d actually have starters built up,” he said. “You wouldn’t have guys on pitch counts or whatever it is. You’d actually have real guys going at it. It’d be a real game.”
You can understand Scherzer’s explanation and his thinking, but it’s unclear if moving the tournament would have the desired effect. After all, pitchers would likely pass on an in-season WBC for workload purposes, with an eye on using MLB‘s “shutdown” period to rest up for a postseason run.
Besides, other countries have fared better at recruiting their best arms. Japan, to cite one example, has a stacked rotation that includes two top MLB pitchers, in Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, as well as two of the best hurlers in Nippon Professional Baseball, in Roki Sasaki and Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
When it comes to the elite American pitchers and their lack of interest in the WBC, it…
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