The World Baseball Classic took a break yesterday, and it felt strange to have the hiatus after two weeks of games. Tonight, the semi-finals begin. The Netherlands will take on undefeated Puerto Rico. Pool play is over. The semi-finals give each team one shot at the championship game. The winner moves on to the finals, and the loser goes home.
All times are PDT, all games are broadcast on MLB Network and MLB.tv.
Semifinal 1: Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico, 6:00 PM Monday
Semifinal 2: United States vs. Japan, 6:00 PM Tuesday
Final: Semi Winner 2 vs. Semi Winner 1, 6:00 PM Wednesday
Puerto Rico: Like Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico has some exciting talent on the roster. Also like Venezuela, the pitching is the question mark. Mariners closer Edwin Diaz and pitching prospect Emilio Pagan hope to help the rest of the staff advance the team to Round 2. The infield of young stars Francisco Lindor, Javier Baez, and Carlos Correa join veterans like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina. Puerto Rico played in the championship game last year. They may lack the pitching to get back.
Netherlands: Some big names fill out the roster for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Andrelton Simmons, Xander Bogaerts, Jonathan Schoop, Didi Gregorius, and Jurickson Profar are the big Major Leaguers. It’s safe to say the Netherlands won’t have to worry about running out of short stops. Wladimir Balentien, the breaker of Sadaharu Oh’s Nippon Professional Baseball single-season home run record in 2013, will roam the outfield.