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Italy vs Japan Odds, Picks, Predictions | World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal Betting Preview

Italy vs Japan Odds, Picks, Predictions | World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal Betting Preview article feature image
Credit:

Mary DeCicco/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Italy’s Miles Mastrobuoni and Vinnie Pasquantino.

Italy vs. Japan Odds

Italy dds +540
Japan Odds -850
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, Pool A winner, Cuba, defeated the Pool B runner-up, Australia, on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Pool B winner, Japan, will face the Pool A runner-up Italy.

In Miami, The Pool D and C winners and qualifiers will face off on Friday and Saturday.

Below, I’ll provide my projections for Thursday 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.

Italy’s Roster and WBC Path

I selected Italy as the Group A winner before the tournament, and frankly, our +600 pool winner ticket deserved better.

Italy defeated the two best teams in its Group, Cuba and the Netherlands, while losing a couple of close contests to Chinese Taipei and Panama. All teams finished 2-2 in the group, but because Italy allowed a fractional amount of earned rules per outs recorded more than Cuba, it finished second to a team it defeated.

Italy made a ton of contact (averaged four walks, six strikeouts, and nearly 10 hits per game in pool play) and played excellent team defense, led by Brewers prospect Sal Frelick, Royals infielder Nicky Lopez, and the Fletcher brothers; David (Angels) and Dominic (Diamondbacks). And the Italians have a legitimate run producer in the middle, with the Royals’ Vinnie Pasquantino handling first base (137 wRC+ in his rookie season).

Italy is a bit thin on pitching, but might be able to cobble together a decent game after several days off. Matt Harvey started in both of the victories, but may be limited — if used at all — after tossing 60 pitches on March 12 against the Netherlands.

Some familiar MLB names in the bullpen — and players likely to see prominent roles on Thursday — include the Cardinals’ Andre Pallante (career 3.71 xFIP), the Mariners’ Matt Festa (4.23), and MLB veterans Joe Biagini (4.22), Ryan Castellani (6.67) and Sam Gaviglio (4.44).

For one game — with everyone rested — perhaps manager Mike Piazza can piece together the innings to keep Japan off the scoreboard and beat Japan at its own game with contact and high-level defense.

Italy has been underrated all tournament, and we cashed straight bets in its two pool play upsets; however, it may not have enough pitching depth to overcome Japan’s loaded roster.

Moreover, it had to travel to Japan (from Taiwan) to play this game and must adjust to a new stadium and a raucous road environment.

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Japan’s Roster and WBC Path

Japan swept through the pool stage, defeating its four opponents by a combined margin of 38-8. And it closed as a smaller favorite against Korea than it opened against Italy.

Shohei Ohtani (2.68 xERA in 2022), will get the start and DH for Japan. He only tossed 49 pitches in his first start against China, but he should be able to provide at least six innings on Thursday, and Italy didn’t face a pitcher anywhere near his caliber in the pool stage.

If Ohtani falters, Japan can turn to Yu Darvish (3.49 xERA in 2022), who hasn’t pitched since March 10, and Roki Sasaki, arguably the top pitching prospect in the world who last pitched on March 11, or several quality relief pitchers.

Japan has the best starting pitching in the tournament, and the schedule played out in its favor, too; its pitchers should all be well-rested for the WBC elimination stage.

The offense is exceptionally dynamic, too, with a trio of MLB players — Ohtani, Lars Nootbaar and Red Sox signee Masataka Yoshida, surrounded by the best hitters from the NPB — Konsuke Kondoh, Shugo Maki, and likely future MLB star (coming in 2026) Munetaka Murakami, who, at age 23, became the youngest triple crown winner in the history of Japanese baseball.

The position player group is so deep that Tetusto Yamada — potentially the best Japanese player aside from Ohtani in the past 10 years — can’t make the starting lineup. Japan lost one of its best players, Seiya Suzuki, just before the tournament, and if you didn’t know he was supposed to be on the team, you wouldn’t have noticed he was missing.

If Japan can win its quarterfinal game without using Darvish or Sasaki — and save that pair for a piggyback in a potential semifinal — it should have a significant pitching advantage to get back to the WBC finals for the first time since 2010.

Projections, Price Targets, and Bet

 

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

I would need +500 or better to bet on Italy based on my projection. That number is just around a five percent edge compared to my projection.

However, I was far more interested in betting on Colombia against Mexico at this price than betting on Italy against Japan. I would probably only place a small bet (between 0.1 to 0.25 units) at that price point.

FanDuel currently has the best price, however, at +680.

Concerning the spread, I would back Italy with +3.5 runs at +100 or better.

And regarding the total, I would wait for Over 7.5 at -115 or better to pop up before jumping in.

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

Pick: Italy +670 (0.25u, Decrease Unit Size Below +600) | Italy +3.5 (+108, 0.25u) 

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