Thanks, at least in part, to Washington Nationals' lefty Ross Detwiler's strong outing in the US Team's victory over Italy last night (and yeah, yeah, the Mets' David Wright hit a grand slam, we saw it...), Team USA has a chance to advance to Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic if they can beat their neighbors to the north this afternoon when they face Canada in a win-or-go-home WBC battle live from Phoenix, Arizona's Chase Field. On the mound this afternoon for the United States will be Texas Rangers' left-hander Derek Holland. The Canadians throw 21-year-old, 2010 1st Round pick Jameson Taillon, the Pittsburgh Pirates' prospect taken with the second overall pick behind only the Nats' Bryce Harper in the 2010 Draft. Should be an interesting matchup on the mound...
Taillon sounded excited about the opportunity when he spoke to reporters including MLB.com's Doug Miller about this afternoon's start, telling them that, "Going into it, [I've] just got an attitude that we got nothing to lose, go out there, give it everything and it's in our hands now. We've got to do what we can do." Team Canada opened the WBC with a loss to the upstart team from Italy, but bounced back to beat Mexico in Saturday afternoon's brawl-filled affair.
Should the U.S. win and move on to Round 2 in Miami, Florida, Washington Nationals fans will likely get an opportunity to see left-handed, 21-game winner Gio Gonzalez take the mound as he's scheduled to throw on March 12th if Team USA advances.
Derek Holland's a 26-year-old, five-year veteran who's pitched postseason games for the Rangers. Taillon's a 21-year-old prospect who's never pitched above Double-A. In 2012, the Pirates' right-hander had a (6-8) record with a 3.82 ERA, 3.70 FIP, 37 walks (2.66 BB/9) and 98 Ks (7.06 K/9) in 23 games and 125.0 IP at Class-A Bradenton in Pittsburgh's system. In his first three starts with the Altoona Curve at Double-A, Taillon was (3-0) with a 1.59 ERA, 1.26 FIP, one walk (0.53 BB/9) and 18 Ks (9.53 K/9) in 17.0 IP.
USA manager Joe Torre was asked today what the US hitters would have to do to beat Taillon and what he knew about the young right-hander. "You know he was a number one pick and you know he throws hard," Torre told reporters, "and you just‑‑ again, you have to do what you do and look for a pitch to hit and make sure you're disciplined and yet you stay aggressive. So what I'm saying is you want to be aggressive in the strike zone and just make sure he throws strikes." Can the US put pressure on the young Canadian starter?
Team Canada is going heavy left against Derek Holland, who has a .241/.307/.342 line against left-handers in his career, as FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi noted on Twitter:
US lefty Derek Holland will face *7* LHH in Canadian lineup: Gillies, Green, Votto, Morneau, Saunders, Robinson-R, Loewen, Orr, Iorg-R.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) March 10, 2013
• Here are Team USA and Canada's Starting Lineups for their WBC matchup with Canada:
• Game time 4:00 pm EDT on the MLB Network. Can the US stay alive in the WBC or can Canada knock Team USA out? Who's Watching the WBC?