The 2023 World Baseball Classic is already underway, and we have seen some truly magical games.
The best, however, is yet to come.
We are yet to watch the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.
The last two will clash on Saturday, at 7:00 p.m. ET, for the closely contested Pool D.
The Dominicans have a truly imposing offense, with players such as Gary Sanchez, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, Wander Franco, Willy Adames, Rafael Devers, Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Teoscar Hernandez, and Eloy Jimenez.
The man in charge of trying to stop that stellar lineup, at least for a few innings, is Texas Rangers left-hander Martin Perez.
Per @DanielAlvarezEE, Martín Pérez will be Venezuela’s starter for their opening WBC game against the Dominican Republic. 🇻🇪 pic.twitter.com/oHF9ktqS5A
— Shawn Spradling (@Shawn_Spradling) March 9, 2023
Perez will show what he’s made of against the best offense in the pool and one of the best in the WBC.
The Venezuelan southpaw is coming off his best season in MLB.
Last year, he led a mediocre Rangers rotation with a 2.89 ERA (3.27 Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP) in 196.1 innings.
Strikeouts are not really Perez’s thing (he had 169) but he managed to keep offenses guessing with his excellent cutter-sinker-changeup combo.
Having Perez on the mound against the Dominican Republic frees Pablo Lopez to start against Puerto Rico on Sunday in another pivotal game.
The two teams who will qualify to the next round will likely come out of that trio.
For Venezuela, winning at least one of those two games will be of extreme importance.
Getting into a 0-2 hole will likely be a death sentence for their options to advance.
They are trusting Perez to be competitive against the Dominicans and get in at least three or four solid innings.NEXT: Former College Teammates Led The Rangers To Victory