World Baseball Classic 2023 odds: How to bet Cuba-United States, expert pick

By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

Is it normal for your immediate reaction to betting on the #1 semifinal in the World Baseball Classic to be, how could the Americans lose this one?!?

There are the rosters: The Stars and Stripes have the most MLB players who have the most experience playing at high levels.

There is also the logistics. So far, Cuba has been playing in Asia this tournament. They’ve only been back in this hemisphere since Thursday, meaning this team has just three days to fight jet lag and prepare for the toughest test of the stretch. While I’m no expert on circadian rhythms, I know it will be a challenge.

RELATED: How to bet on the semi-final of the WBC Japan-Mexico

But the biggest focus should be the kick-off game and whether Cuba has what it takes to pull off more surprises after starting the WBC 0-2.

So how should we bet on it? Let’s dive in, with odds courtesy of Bet FOX.

Team USA vs. Cuba World Baseball Classic Semifinals Preview

Team USA vs. Cuba World Baseball Classic Semifinals Preview

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry preview Team USA’s game against Cuba in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic.

Cuba vs United States at LoanDepot Park, Miami, 7:00 PM ET Sunday, FS1 and FOX Sports app

Execution line: USA -1.5 (USA prefers to win by 2 or more runs, otherwise Cuba covers)
Moneyline: United States -400 favorites to win (bet $10 to win $12.50 total); Cuba +280 underdogs to win (bet $10 to win $38 total)
Total Over/Under Score: 10 runs scored by both teams combined

Getting the ball for the Americans is Cardinals veteran Adam Wainwright. The 41-year-old right-hander had a respectable 2022 season. His ERA was 3.71 and his 54 walks over 190 innings pitched was a solid ratio, but Statcast can tell us exactly where he excelled and where there may be issues in this matchup.

In 2022, Wainwright’s curveball was as effective as anyone’s. We can use a statistic called run value to explain. Each situation in baseball, depending on runners on base, outs, and the count, has an average of how many runs were scored in that situation.

Each time Wainwright threw his curveball, we can see the result and how much that changed the average number of runs scored. After adding up the results of each curveball from the 2022 season, you have their run value.

Wainwright’s curveball had a career value of -10, fourth highest in MLB last season. Another pitch he had success with was his cutter, coming in at 33rd overall with a career value of -4. At least as far as the last two games, Cuba has only put one together when throwing curveballs.

As for Cuba’s pitching, they will counter with Roenis Elías, a 34-year-old lefty who may have the right stuff to make a major league bullpen. Elías relies on his four-seam fastball and changeup, and both have expected batting averages below .210. He was able to use both effectively against Italy, pitching five innings of scoreless baseball with three strikeouts.

Perhaps Cuba’s biggest problem, however, is that even if Elías has a successful outing, the pitching restrictions will prevent him from getting as deep into the game as he can. Regardless of who Cuba uses in their bullpen, the United States has too many sluggers not all of them at the same time.

Team USA’s epic comeback win to advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic

Team USA's epic comeback win to advance to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry bring you everything you need to know about Team USA’s win over Venezuela.

The best example happened Saturday night when nine-hole hitter Trea Turner hit a grand slam (on 0-2 pitching, no less). If Turner wasn’t going to be the hero, Mookie Betts and Mike Trout were right behind him, ready to pounce as well.

However, one could argue that the same could be said of Cuba’s hitters. Yoan Moncada, Luis Robert Jr., et al., have had their moments. Even if Wainwright’s curveball works, can the Americans stifle the top of Cuba’s batting order?

Again, it’s a small sample size, but when comparing the two teams’ hitters, it’s actually Cuba who has the higher on-base percentage (.394 vs.378). Many mitigating factors, including strength of schedule, may account for the disparity, but Cuba’s hitters are worthy of respect.

Ultimately, the United States should still win this game, so I suggest playing it safe and taking the Stars and Stripes on the money line. If you don’t want to put as much juice, USA in the race line is another option, as they should have a chance to get out late.

COLLECT: United States (-400 money at FOX Bet) to win outright

Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, sports betting analyst, data scientist, and assistant professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become an aficionado of cold beer. Edward previously worked in local television, most notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas, covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. follow him Ttweet @EdWith Sports.

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