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Australia vs Cuba Odds, Picks, Predictions | World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal Betting Preview

Australia vs Cuba Odds, Picks, Predictions | World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal Betting Preview article feature image

RICHARD A. BROOKS/AFP via Getty Images. Pictured: Australia celebrates its WBC victory over Korea.

Australia vs. Cuba Odds

Australia Odds +270
Cubs Odds -355
Over/Under 9.5 (+100 / -122)
Time 6 a.m. ET
TV Fox Sports 2
Odds via FanDuel.

Following round-robin pool play, the World Baseball Classic field of 20 will reduce to a single-elimination bracket of eight teams — appropriate for the start of March Madness.

In Tokyo, the Pool A winner will face the Pool B runner-up, and vice-versa, on Wednesday and Thursday. In Miami, The Pool D and C winners and qualifiers will face off on Friday and Saturday.

The first quarterfinal features a matchup between a traditional baseball power and a 2006 WBC finalist — Cuba, which qualified on a tiebreaker — against Australia, which went 3-1 in the group stage and advanced further than ever before (2-10 record in the three prior WBC tournaments).

Below, I’ll provide my projections for Wednesday morning’s matchup (first pitch at 6 a.m. ET on Fox Sports 2) and utilize those projections to find an actionable betting edge for the game.

Cuba’s Roster and WBC Path

After winning an Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 and losing to Japan 10-6 in the 2006 WBC final — with a spry 22-year-old Yuli Gurriel as their No. 3 hitter — Cuban baseball has fallen out of the international spotlight. The powerhouse island hasn’t finished better than fifth since the inaugural WBC, and in 2021 Cuba failed to qualify for the Olympic games for the first time.

With the mass exodus of talent to MLB organizations over the past two decades, Cuba’s available international talent pool has shrunk tremendously. If every available Cuban player participated for the national team in this tournament, it would be a co-favorite alongside USA, Japan, The Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

However, aside from White Sox stars Luis Robert Jr. and Yoan Moncada — or former MLB veterans like Yoenis Cespedes or Erisbel Arruebarrena — the casual baseball fan would not recognize many of the names on this roster.

Cuba won Pool A on the third tiebreak, with each team finished 2-2. It allowed the fewest earned runs as a fraction of total outs recorded — which was the determining factor — but also led the pool in run differential (+10), so the result was likely justified.

Cuba’s offense was initially held in check against The Netherlands and Italy (five runs combined), but exploded for 20 runs in the final two games against Chinese Taipei and Panama. It will be interesting to see if those bats stay hot after three days off.

Cuba’s pitching isn’t particularly deep, but does have the arms to keep any game close if the team doesn’t have to play multiple days in a row.

Yariel Rodriguez — a dominant setup man in the Japanese league who tossed four excellent innings against the Netherlands (3 H, 1R, 1 BB, 6 K) — will start the quarterfinals. He should keep Australia’s offense off-balance at least the first time through the lineup, but hitters may start figuring out his two-pitch mix the second time.

I’m not particularly enamored with Cuba’s bullpen.

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Australia’s Roster and WBC Path

Australia pulled a massive upset against Korea (closed around +500) and held serve against China and The Czech Republic to qualify for the elimination stage. I thought it was a two-team pool going into the tournament — and Korea had a better chance of beating Japan than the Aussies did of advancing — but my assessment was off.

We didn’t have the best data on some of these teams pre-tournament, and Australia is filled with minor leaguers like Robbie Glendinning — a 27-year-old shortstop who plays in Double-A for the Royals — and ABL veterans.

Still, the Aussies’ only loss was against Japan (7-1), but their bullpen prevented things from getting out of control in that game. And Australia’s offense was dominant in the other three games (28 total runs).

Australia doesn’t have any arms that will overwhelm you, but manager Dave Nilsson has done an excellent job managing his pitching staff. Essentially, he has managed each game like a bullpen game — rarely using a pitcher for more than two innings and frequently using a different pitcher in every inning.

Australia has done an excellent job scouting its opponents because it has played the matchups as well as any team in this tournament.

Moreover, the Aussies have a slight advantage over Cuba here regarding ballpark familiarity. Each of their batters is familiar with the batter’s eye, all of their pitchers are familiar with the mound, and each of their fielders is accustomed to the slick indoor playing surface. And they didn’t have to travel.

While I didn’t factor in any home-field advantage for Australia, I should have. All the factors I listed must amount to some degree of an advantage, even if it is only one or two percentage points.

Projections, Price Targets, and Bets

I am firm on my price targets; that is the minimum price I need to place a bet.

Based on my projection, I bet Australia (+270, 0.25u) at FanDuel. I would add more if the moneyline crossed +300 or the juice on the spread (+2.5 runs) dropped to -105.

I will update this column and post a note on Twitter if I add any additional bets before game time.

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