It’s all come down to this: Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico for the WBC title. The Dominican is going for a perfect tournament, but Puerto Rico, with a win, could make all those previous games for the Dominican irrelevant. It’s one game, winner take all. Go below the jump for the tale of the tape:
Starting Pitching Matchup: Sam Deduno goes for the Dominican against Carlos Alvarado (sometimes called Giancarlos Alvarado) for Puerto Rico. It’s hardly a duel of aces, but the Dominican likely has the slight advantage, as Deduno is a (borderline) major league pitcher, while Alvarado struggled last year in Japan. However, I feel like this is not a game that will be decided by the starters- but rather the relievers. Still, I’d have to say Advantage: Dominican.
Bullpens: A big Dominican advantage. If the Dominican has any type of lead- especially a large one- once Deduno leaves the game, it’s going to be extremely tough for the Puerto Ricans to make it up, as pitchers like Pedro Strop, Octavio Dotel and Santiago Casilla pave the way to Fernando Rodney. Puerto Rico’s bullpen can get the job done, but it is nothing like the Dominican’s. Advantage: Dominican.
Hitting: The Dominican again has a big advantage, with many heavy hitters and few weak spots in the lineup. They are a near-constant scoring threat. The Puerto Ricans, on the other hand, have mainly had to scrape together runs when they can get them, occasionally taking advantage of the home run, such as Alex Rios dinger against Japan. Advantage: Dominican.
Fielding: While it is hard to really determine fielding and how it could affect a single game, it is probably safe to say that the Puerto Ricans do have the advantage of having Yadier Molina behind the plate, making it dangerous for any runners on base who may dare to challenge his arm. While the Dominican certainly is good in the field, it feels to me that the effect that Molina may be worth more. Maybe. Advantage: Puerto Rico.
Depth: The Dominican has far more depth, both in the lineup, in the bullpen and on the bench. This was nicely displayed against the Netherlands, where Moises Sierra took over for the flu-ridden Ricardo Nanita and made a great catch in the outfield and was a star at the plate. Advantage: Dominican.
Experience/Intangibles: The Dominican is the more experienced team, but it’s hard to argue that Puerto Rico is playing with a fire and a sense of destiny. So, uhhhh… I’ll call this one a push.
But, to be honest, I have no clue what is going to happen tonight. Nobody does. We have theories and predictions (I predict the Dominican will win, for example), but in a single game, nothing is certain. So just sit back and enjoy it.