We have reached the semifinal round of the World Baseball Classic, giving us another split two-game slate on DraftKings. The thing to note about this round is that pitchers have had the leash almost completely removed and can throw up to 95 pitches in a game. This could make the idea of taking hitters and pitchers from opposite sides of a game a bit less appealing, as a dominant hurler could keep an offense off the board entirely.
The slate begins Monday at 9 p.m. EDT with Puerto Rico taking on the Netherlands and continues Tuesday when Japan battles team USA. Both games are at Dodger Stadium.
Rick van den Hurk, NED at PR ($5,300): Van den Hurk hasn't had much success in the tournament this year, allowing five runs on 10 hits in seven innings. It must be noted, however, that those numbers are almost entirely the result of one bad game in the hitter-friendly environment in the Tokyo Dome. The former major leaguer blanked Korea through four innings in his opening start. Now pitching in the spacious confines of Dodger Stadium, van den Hurk should be able to use his strikeout prowess (10.0/9 for the Softbank Hawks in 2016) to keep Puerto Rico in check.
Tomoyuki Sugano, JPN vs. USA ($5,700): Sugano has had his strikeout pitch working through two WBC starts, notching 10 through 8.1 innings. While the five runs allowed over that span may make some potential owners nervous, Sugano came into this tournament as a pitcher who permitted just 41 earned runs in 183.1 innings in the Japan Central League in 2016.
Seiji Kobayashi, JPN vs. USA ($3,900): Kobayashi has been a light-hitting catcher throughout his career, but the 27-year-old has caught fire on the world stage, notching eight hits (including a home run) in 18 at-bats. Tanner Roark had an excellent season in 2016, but it will be nearly two weeks since he has taken the mound by the time he toes the rubber in Los Angeles. The 30-year-old was lit up for three runs in just 1.1 innings in his only appearance in the tournament on March 11.
Jonathan Schoop, NED at PR ($4,800): Puerto Rico starter Jorge Lopez was hit hard at Triple-A Colorado Springs in 2016, as he allowed 60 earned runs in 79.1 innings. He surrendered 55 walks over that span. Schoop maintained a reverse platoon split in 2016, notching a .193 ISO in 467 at-bats against right-handed pitching.
Tetsuto Yamada, JPN vs. USA ($5,000): Yamada is one of a slew of Japanese players who have brought their power bats to the WBC, hitting two homers in six games. The fact that Yamada and his teammates will be outside of the Tokyo Dome for the first time this tournament may be a bit concerning, but I don't expect a volatile contact pitcher coming off a long layoff to be the one to reap the benefits against what is still a dangerous squad.
Xander Bogaerts, NED at PR ($5,500): The price seems a bit steep based on Bogaerts' performance in the tournament, but he could exploit Lopez's penchant for the free pass, as he has notched a .385 OBP despite hitting just .211 through six games. Bogaerts has yet to swipe a base in the WBC, but could have the green light after stealing a career-high 13 bags last year.
Hayato Sakamoto, JPN vs. USA ($4,000): Sakamoto has produced well for Japan in the middle of the order, slugging .600 with a .522 on-base percentage over 20 at-bats. The 27-year-old has swiped just one bag in this tournament, but he should be considered a threat to run, as he has notched double-digit stolen bases in each of the last five seasons playing for the Yomiuri Giants.
Yositomo Tsutsugo, JPN vs. USA ($4,900): The fact that Tsutsugo can be had for less than $5,000 may be something of a gift, as he has been one of the most prolific power hitters of the tournament. His three homers in 22 at-bats translates to a .773 slugging percentage to go with his .462 on-base percentage. With so many big bats in the lineup, the team from Japan could be a prime stack target for the semifinal round.
Wladimir Balentien, NED at PR ($4,700): Balentien is another big power threat who isn't getting much respect in terms of price, but he has been a godsend for the Netherlands, hitting three homers and driving in 10 runs in 22 at-bats. Balentien will get another chance to leave the yard Monday, as Lopez allowed 12 home runs at Colorado Springs last year.
Christian Yelich, USA at JPN ($4,700): Yelich has been one of the most reliable hitters on team USA through six games, as he has tallied a .350/.435/.500 batting line with three doubles in 20 at-bats. Yelich could see opportunities to add to his RBI total (2) if he remains ahead of Adam Jones and Ian Kinsler in the batting order.