Thanks to Great Britain's surprise win over Colombia on Monday, Team USA controls its destiny in the first round of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. USA will advance to the second round with a win over Canada on Monday and a win over Colombia on Wednesday. Tuesday is an off day. Here's how you can watch Monday's game against Canada.
Chicago White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn will start against Canada on Monday. On Wednesday, the Americans will send Arizona Diamondbacks righty Merrill Kelly to the mound against Colombia, reports USA Today. Kelly starting Wednesday suggests St. Louis Cardinals workhorse Miles Mikolas will come out of the bullpen Monday.
"I haven't heard much as far as when I'm pitching or how I will be used," Kelly said during an MLB Network Radio interview last month. "When it first came up when the opportunity presented itself, the team wanted me to start, so that's what I'm operating on, unless told otherwise."
Team USA has piggybacked starting pitchers in its first two WBC games. Cardinals righty Adam Wainwright and Colorado Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland paired up against Great Britain on Saturday, and San Diego Padres righty Nick Martinez and Kansas City Royals righty Brady Singer paired up against Mexico on Sunday. Lynn and Mikolas appeared to be paired up against Canada on Monday.
Because USA has an off-day Tuesday, manager Mark DeRosa figures to have his entire relief crew available behind Kelly against Colombia on Wednesday. There will be no need for a piggyback starter. USA should have enough arms to use a different reliever in every inning once Kelly is out of the game, and then some.
Wednesday's game could be win or go home for both teams, it should be noted. If USA beats Canada on Monday and Colombia beats Canada on Tuesday, and Mexico beats Great Britain on Tuesday, the winner of Wednesday's USA-Colombia game will advance to the second round and the loser will be eliminated from the WBC.
The first round of the WBC features four five-team pools. Each team plays every other team in its pool once, and the teams with the two best records advance to the quarterfinals. Cuba and Italy have advanced out of Pool A and Australia and Japan have advanced out of Pool B. Pools C and D will wrap up later this week.
Kelly, 34, threw 200 1/3 innings with a 3.37 ERA in 2022. Wednesday's game against Colombia will be played at Chase Field in Arizona, Kelly's home ballpark with the D-Backs. He has a career 3.35 ERA in just under 300 innings at Chase Field.