Tonight is the night fans of the WBC have been waiting for. Marlins Park will be rocking with an atmosphere that will be like the playoffs. Both the United States and Dominican Republic come into this marquee matchup fresh off victories.
While things were relatively easy for the Dominicans a few days ago against Canada, the Americans come into this game on a mental high after walking off against Colombia last night. These two clubs are the class of Pool C and both will look to get the upper hand on the other. That seems to be a much easier task for the defending WBC champions, Dominican Republic.
Manager Tony Pena will be sending out Edinson Volquez to the mound, looking to shut down the American lineup. Volquez is coming off a lackluster 2016, which saw the 33 year-old go 10-11 with a 5.37 ERA, in 34 starts. Volquez has the luxury of the powerful Dominican offense to provide run support.
Looking to slow down that Dominican lineup, Manager Jim Leyland counters with Toronto Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman. Like Volquez, Stroman is coming off a subpar 2016. Despite a stellar 2014 and 2015, he was 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 32 starts for the Blue Jays last year. He has been one of the best pitchers for Toronto in his three years up north. Both Volquez and Stroman have postseason experience which will help in a big game like this.
In a massive game like this, any advantage could go a long way. The biggest key could be the rest factor. The Dominicans had a rest day yesterday while the Americans very well could have been spent mentally in their close game against Colombia. That also coincides with the bullpens. Both teams have very good and deep bullpens. Jim Leyland had to use more pitchers in last nights game than expected, while the Dominicans had the added benefit of the rest day.
This game will be a fun one to watch, especially with the talent of both teams and the atmosphere will take it over the edge. The key for both teams is to get ahead early. If the Americans, who are the slated visiting team tonight, can jump on Volquez early, that will help take the large Dominican contingent out of it. The winner of this game will put themselves in the pole position to finish first in Pool C, sealing advancement, while the loser will face a must win game on Sunday.