My strategy in wagering these games is first to recognize that 3 teams are vastly better than everyone else. They are Japan, the USA, and the Dominican Republic. When it comes to lines, they will be very large favorites until they play each other. Korea, a solid team, is expected to move on from their pool and were -500 opening favorites against Australia. At close, Korea was -660! Japan played their 1st game against Chinese Taipei and was such a large favorite there wasn’t even a line for the side! Interestingly, Australia beat Korea as one of the largest-ever upsets for the WBC. This brings into play the question of just how good are the teams that are not named Japan, USA, or DR.?
The Netherlands already won as a +180 underdog against Cuba, then Italy did the same thing as +125 dogs against Cuba. The bookmakers are going to have a difficult time setting these odds. Remember the format, starting pitching only goes 65 pitches, then has to sit for 4 games this round, expanding to 80 pitches in the next round. It means that relief pitching is critical. Yes, the best teams have that covered, but no one else does. Japan drew 15 walks! I expect the underdog will have value in most games because this tournament round is about the offense.
These teams are not great defenders, so we will see some interesting play on the field. We have already seen the command issues pitchers. There have already been 58 walks issues in 6 games! The opportunities to score will be there. There have been 60 runs scored, with 50 runs scored in 4 of the games! Low-scoring games should not be the norm. The pitchers, as we have been discussing, are not elite, so we should see balls in play. Pitchers putting batters on base combined with balls in play should mean runs. So far, Team Netherlands has played very good defense, as their infield comprises MLB players. They have played the two games where the runs have been lower, which could be one reason why.
In terms of strategy, look at totals and think about the over first. When the best teams play the weakest ones, the scores should resemble a beer league softball game, like 11-1. The weaker teams will not score much. Panama came into this year’s event, having not scored a single run in their last 30 innings! The good teams will put up numbers. It was interesting to see the total in the Japan/Chinese Taipei game at 12.5. The game stayed under but easily could have gone over if Japan capitalized more on those 15 walks! The WBC DOES have mercy rules too. It means if one team is far enough ahead, they will call the game.
Second, look to the underdogs. The WBC brings out the “playing for their country” component, and often the underdog will fight hard! This does not apply where the underdog has no talent to compete, but this should only happen versus the elite teams. Thus, compare how good the starting pitcher is for the underdog with the idea that if he can keep them in the game, they have a chance. Only the elite teams have the best bullpens, so if the starter can keep the game close, the underdog can win in the end!
I am currently 1-1 on WBC wagers. I lost a total Over in the Netherlands/Cuba game, then won with underdog Italy vs. Cuba. I am only a little ahead right now. More to come. If you would like to follow my wagers to wager yourself, you can sign up for my service for only $49.99. https://mlb-daily.com/premium-services/