Japan and Mexico will play on Monday to see who faces the United States in the World Baseball Classic final.
Both teams have been extremely good to this point, with the added bonus that Japan is currently undefeated.
For Monday’s affair, Patrick Sandoval will take the ball and try to give Mexico its first finals appearance in the event.
Japan will give the ball to Roki Sasaki, the 21-year-old phenom who has a bright future stateside.
The great Yoshinobu Yamamoto is believed to be available to “piggyback” Sasaki in the semifinals matchup.
If Japan makes it into the final game, San Diego Padres star Yu Darvish will make that start.
How about Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani?
He is unlikely to appear in the WBC again as a pitcher, but crazier things have happened in the world of baseball.
His own manager wouldn’t rule him out.
“Is there any chance Shohei Ohtani would pitch in relief vs USA on Tuesday if they play in the Finals? ‘Well, it’s not a zero,’ Manager Hideki Kuriyama said, but considers it an extreme longshot. Yu Darvish is the scheduled starter,” MLB insider Bob Nightengale tweeted, quoting Japan’s skipper.
Is there any chance Shohei Ohtani would pitch in relief vs USA on Tuesday if they play in the Finals?
‘Well, it’s not a zero,’’ Manager Hideki Kuriyama said, but considers it an extreme longshot.
Yu Darvish is the scheduled starter.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 20, 2023
Ohtani has a .438/.625/.813 line, a 1.438 OPS, three doubles and a homer as a hitter; plus a 2.08 ERA in 8.2 innings, with a 1/10 BB/K ratio and a stellar 0.69 WHIP on the mound.
Simply put, he is the tournament’s most evident MVP candidate up until this point, together with USA’s Trea Turner.
We wouldn’t be shocked to see Ohtani face the US lineup for an inning or two should his manager need him.
Japan’s pitching is extraordinary, but so is America’s lineup and he may be needed.
Don’t rule him out.NEXT: Lars Nootbaar Hypes Up Shohei Ohtani As The True GOAT