There are only two teams that have not lost a game in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
And Team USA needs to go through one of them to reach the semifinals.
The defending WBC champions begin knockout stage play this weekend with a showdown against Venezuela at loanDepot park in Miami. The quarterfinal matchup is Team USA’s toughest test yet, and it comes in a win-or-go-home situation.
Venezuela won Pool D, arguably the toughest of the four groups, with a perfect 4-0 record. That unbeaten run was highlighted by a 5-1 win over the Dominican Republic and a 9-6 victory against Puerto Rico.
Similar to Team USA, Venezuela’s roster is filled with MLB standouts. Jose Altuve, Ronald Acuna Jr., Salvador Perez and Luis Arraez are just some of the names the United States’ pitching staff has to deal with.
While the Americans went 3-1 in pool play, they need to perform much better than they have overall to beat Venezuela and keep their title defense alive.
So will the Americans rise to the occasion, or will this mark the end of their WBC run? Here’s what to know before the Team USA-Venezuela battle.
When is the Team USA vs. Venezuela WBC game?
Team USA and Venezuela will meet in the tournament’s last quarterfinal matchup on Saturday.
What time does the Team USA vs. Venezuela WBC game start?
First pitch at loanDepot park is set for 7 p.m. ET.
What TV channel is the Team USA vs. Venezuela WBC game on?
FOX will air the U.S.-Venezuela game.
How to stream the Team USA vs. Venezuela WBC game
Who are the starting pitchers for Team USA vs. Venezuela?
Neither team has announced its starting pitcher yet.
What is Team USA’s projected starting lineup vs. Venezuela?
Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are locks at this point.
Since Pete Alonso is 0-for-9 at the plate, it seems like a safe bet that manager Mark DeRosa will roll with Kyle Schwarber at DH and put Kyle Tucker in left field.
In the middle infield, the duo of Tim Anderson and Trea Turner makes the most sense with Jeff McNeil having reached base just once.
Finally, look for J.T. Realmuto to get the nod at catcher after Will Smith started the last game.
So here’s what DeRosa could go with as his starting lineup:
1. Mookie Betts, RF
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
5. Kyle Schwarber, DH
6. Kyle Tucker, LF
7. Tim Anderson, 2B
8. J.T. Realmuto, C
9. Trea Turner, SS