World Baseball Classic 2017: Cuba-Japan start time, live stream info, TV, odds, prediction

The World Baseball Classic began on Monday. Getty Images

The 2017 World Baseball Classic is upon us. The tournament began early Monday with Game 1 of Pool A at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea. On Tuesday, Pool B will begin play from the Tokyo Dome. (Pool C will be played at Marlins Park in Miami, and Pool D will be played at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico.) Israel knocked off South Korea in an extra-innings upset  to kick things off. Israel will face the Chinese Taipei in the second game of the tournament.

Here’s how you can watch the tourney’s third game:

How to watch:
Teams: Cuba vs. Japan
Date: Tuesday, March 7
Time: 5:00 am ET
Television: MLB Network
Streaming: MLB.tv

Cuba and Japan are in a pool with China and Australia. Cuba and Japan each happened to advance from their shared pool in 2013. Cuba lost to the Netherlands in the second round, otherwise the two would’ve matched up for a chance to advance to the championship round. Japan, meanwhile, lost in the semifinals to Puerto Rico.

These have consistently been two of the best teams in the WBC — Japan, for its part, has won two of the tournaments. As such, both teams feature a slew of high-quality players.

Cuba doesn’t have any MLB or MLB-affiliated players on its roster for obvious reasons. It does, however, have some individuals worth learning about. Outfielder Yoelkis Cespedes is Yoenis’ younger half-brother, and is an exciting, well-rounded talent. Another young outfielder worth watching is Victor Mesa. Alfredo Despaigne hit .280/.361/.480 with the Chiba Lotte Marines last season. If you’ve followed international play, you know his name.

Japan is without Ichiro Suzuki, leaving Nori Aoki as the lone MLB player on the roster. Another notable player absent from Japan’s roster? Shohei Otani. Replacing Otani as the de facto ace is Ayumu Ishikawa, who managed a 2.16 ERA and 4.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio, also for Chiba Lotte. Shintaro Fujinami is another well-regarded pitcher.

Odds:
Here are the betting lines on the game, via SportsBook.ag:

Cuba: +310
Japan: -390

Prediction:
When in doubt, go with the team that seemingly has the better starting pitcher — that means Japan in this case.

Here is the full 2017 WBC schedule as well as the full rosters. The championship game will be played March 22 at Dodger Stadium.

R.J. Anderson, CBS Sports

March 7, 2017

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