USA vs Venezuela Odds, Picks, Predictions | World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal Betting Preview

USA vs Venezuela Odds, Picks, Predictions | World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal Betting Preview article feature image

Norm Hall/Getty Images. Pictured: Mookie Betts and Mike Trout.

USA vs. Venezuela

USA Odds-138
Venezuela Odds+112
Over/Under8.5 (-134 / +112)
Time7 p.m. ET
TV Fox Sports 1
Odds via FanDuel.

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

In Tokyo, the Pool A winner, Cuba, and Pool B winner, Japan, won their quarterfinal matchups on Wednesday and Thursday. They will advance to Miami for the semifinals, where Japan will play Pool D winner Mexico in one semifinal, while Cuba will play the winner of Saturday's quarterfinal between USA and Venezuela.

Below, I'll provide my projections for Saturday's matchup (first pitch at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1) and utilize those projections to find an actionable betting edge for the game.

Team USA's Roster and WBC Path

Team USA went 3-1 in pool play, including a loss against Mexico that relegated it to second place and a far more difficult matchup with the Pool C winner, Venezuela.

Aside from a 12-run outburst against Canada, Team USA struggled to score runs in Arizona, managing 14 combined against Colombia, Great Britain and Mexico. The Americans seemed flat and uninspired the entire week, and its pitching seemed relatively shaky, too.

Team USA's lineup is star-laden — and elite both offensively and defensively. I rated it as the best and deepest position player group in the tournament. Manager Mark DeRosa can platoon Kyle Schwarber and Pete Alonso as the DH against righties or lefties, for example; an embarrassment of riches.

Regarding Venezuela's lineup, team USA's position player group is worth about a six percent advantage toward my moneyline projection. Roughly speaking, USA is about 14% better offensively (about a half run per game against an average opponent) and a few percentage points better defensively.

USA should have the advantage against Venezuela in the bullpen, too. Team USA's relievers project exceptionally well but may be dealing with injury concerns, including Ryan Pressly (2.82 Model Weighted ERA) and David Bednar (3.06) along with Devin Williams (3.00), Jason Adam (3.39), Brooks Raley (3.62) and Kendall Graveman (3.75).

USA has the lesser starting pitcher in the matchup, with Lance Lynn (3.62 xERA in 2022) taking the ball. I would have flown to Miami and rioted if Adam Wainwright started.

Still, I'm high on Lynn for this upcoming season. He added a slider midway through last year and finally found a weapon to neutralize lefties. I expect an honest effort from Lynn but a quick hook from DeRosa if Lynn gets into trouble.

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Venezuela's Roster and WBC Path

Aside from Japan, Venezuela is the only undefeated team in the tournament. It blasted through its group, defeating each opponent by at least three runs, including a heavily favored Dominican Republic squad.

Along with Korea, Venezuela was my outright pick at the start of the tournament. Like the Americans, its roster is packed with MLB talent; but it's a bit more of an awkward fit. Venezuela doesn't have much outfield depth, and its infielders it mostly second basemen, with Jose Altuve, Luis Arraez, Eduardo Escobar, Andrez Gimenez, Hernan Perez, Luis Rengifo and Gleyber Torres all suited to play the position (albeit, some better than others at this stage of their respective careers).

Still, Venezuela has made it work on defense — and the offense has been an assembly line, with corner outfielders Anthony Santander and David Peralta providing clutch contributions.

Venezuela hasn't announced a starting pitcher as of this writing, but has a few solid options to choose from, including lefty Martin Perez (3.59 xERA in 2022), who started against the Dominican Republic (3.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K), Houston's Luis Garcia (3.59 xERA in 2022), who was its most effective arm in that victory (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K), or former Marlin Pablo Lopez (3.75 xERA in 2022), who pitched well against Puerto Rico (4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K) and has tons of familiarity with loanDepot Park.

The middle and back-end of the bullpen is Venezuela's most significant concern. It will need to combine starting pitchers to eat innings to get the ball to Jose Quijada (2.87 xERA in 2022) and Jose Alvarado (2.53). Venezuela has other major-league relievers in the bullpen, but they all project for an ERA north of 4. Quijada and Alvarado are the critical stoppers.

Essentially, Venezuela's pitching quality comes down to its manager — Omar Lopez — and whether he can effectively piggyback starters to keep his team in the game.

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 Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings. You can find the same price at Caesars and place that bet down to 8.5 (-102).

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

Bet: Under 9 (-105, 0.5u) at DraftKings

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