What to watch for in all 8 games of the World Baseball Classic on Saturday

Due to the time zone issues that come with holding events in multiple hemispheres, the World Baseball Classic has had a staggered schedule until now. Groups A and B, in Taichung and Tokyo, each of their teams have already played at least two games, while Groups C and D, in Phoenix and Miami, have yet to begin. One of the beauties of this tournament is that the games can take place all over the world, but still be in the same category. But we haven’t had a full day of classic madness yet.

That changes on Saturday.

The Czech Republic and Japan opened Saturday’s game at the Tokyo Dome, with the final set to begin at 11:00 PM ET. If you want to — and you should! — you can watch the World Baseball Classic all morning, all afternoon and all night.

Having high-stakes baseball in early March is exciting enough. But each of these games has its own interesting story, whether you’re a fan of the WBC, MLB, or, possibly, both. Here’s one thing to watch out for in every game.

This could be the game of the day, right off the bat. Japan has been the best team in the tournament so far and certainly looks like the powerhouse of Groups A and B. Shohei Ohtani is the star, of course, but everyone on this team is hitting, including Lars Nootbaar, who has the entire Japanese team pepper-grinding like he did with the Cardinals last year. But in this game, Japan plays WBC darlings the Czech Republic, a team full of firefighters, policemen and high school teachers that won the Classic opener in the most dramatic fashion. With Korea’s 0-2 start, the door is open for the Czech team to sneak into the next round. A win over Japan, as improbable as it is, could unofficially seal it. This game is exactly what this event is all about.

The Netherlands were probably favorites in Group A ahead of the tournament and could not have asked for a better start, with narrow wins over Cuba and Panama. A win over Chinese Taipei would essentially advance the Dutch into the next round. Their success came not from their lineup, but from their pitching; they surrendered only three times in two games. Much of that has come from their stellar defense, which has too many top MLB infielders to even get on the field. Chinese Taipei can solve that problem by hitting the ball over the wall; their four hosts are the most in the tournament so far.

Nicaragua vs. Puerto Rico
Noon ET, FS2

Colombia vs. Mexico
2:30 p.m. ET, FOX

You’d think Mexico — currently ranked No. 5 in the WBSC — would have a rich history in the Classic, but the country has never finished higher than sixth. If the Mexicans want to get out of this pool, this is a big game for them, with the United States and Canada on the horizon. They have a real pitcher on the mound — team captain Julio Urías, complete with amazing Mexican flag cleats — and prime-time telecast in the middle of the day. Colombia is only in its second Clasico and has its hands full with Urías and an extremely motivated Mexican team.

Dominican Republic vs. Venezuela
7 p.m. ET, FS1

Great Britain v. United States
9 p.m. ET, FOX

USA’s stacked lineup may need to shore up a shaky pitching staff, especially at the top of the rotation, but if you’re worried about the lack of zip on Adam Wainwright’s fastball — a serious concern so far in spring training — it might give him a good game; they will not face a weaker team than Great Britain for the whole season. UK has yet to announce a starting pitcher, but facing a Turner/Trout/Goldschmidt/Arenado/Tucker line, maybe the Brits know but are just keeping him under wraps for his own protection.

Czech Republic vs. Korea
10 p.m. ET, FS1

Here’s how much great baseball there is on Saturday: You can watch the Czech team twice. Korea is off to its worst possible start yet, losing both of its games despite a roster that looked capable of potentially making a deep run in the Classic. With all the love the Czech team has been getting, this is an absolute must win for them. With a win against Japan perhaps too much to hope for, earning a split on Saturday would be a huge win.

Chinese Taipei vs. Cuba
11 p.m. ET, FS2

Cuba bounced back from their rough start in the Classic with a critical win over Panama on Thursday, and while they still need a little help, a win over Chinese Taipei here could be enough to take the Cubans to the next round; they will need the Netherlands to help them against Italy on Sunday. This was a Cuban team unlike any other and there is a possibility that this is the last time you will see Yoenis Céspedes play. I can’t think of a better reason to watch it right there.

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