Four pitchers commit to Team USA for World Baseball Classic

October 6th, 2022

With nearly a dozen position players having already affirmed their commitment to helping Team USA repeat as champions at next spring's World Baseball Classic, the logical question was: "Who's going to pitch?" On Thursday afternoon, we got some answers.

Starting pitcher Merrill Kelly and relievers Devin Williams, David Bednar and Dillon Tate all confirmed their intent to play for the United States.

Kelly, the first starter to be announced, already has some international experience. Though he hasn't represented the United States at the Classic, Kelly spent four years with the SK Wyverns in the KBO before he made his big league debut with the D-backs. That experience may give him an edge should Team USA face Korea later in the tournament.

Bullpens, already heavily leaned on by Major League clubs, become even more important in the World Baseball Classic when teams have pitch count limits. Though rules may change for 2023, pitchers couldn't throw more than 65 pitches in the First Round, 80 pitches in the Second Round, or 95 pitches in the Championship Round at the 2017 tournament.

So far, that looks like a strength for the United States. Tate (3.05 ERA, five saves in 2022) gets grounders by the bucket with a sinker he relies on nearly half the time, while Pirates rookie David Bednar (2.61 ERA, 19 saves) went to the All-Star Game in his breakout campaign for the Pirates this year. The Brewers' Devin Williams (1.93 ERA, 15 saves) throws a nearly unhittable, Bugs Bunny-style changeup. He had the fourth-highest K/9 among all qualified relievers (14.24) this season.

Though rosters won't be finalized until the winter, here is how the USA Baseball roster is shaping up under manager Mark DeRosa.

C: J.T. Realmuto, Will Smith
1B: Pete Alonso, Paul Goldschmidt
2B: Trevor Story
SS: Tim Anderson
3B: Nolan Arenado
OF: Mookie Betts, Cedric Mullins, Mike Trout, Kyle Tucker
SP: Merrill Kelly
RP: David Bednar, Dillon Tate, Devin Williams

Team USA will begin Pool C play on March 11 in Phoenix. It'll face Colombia, Canada, Mexico and a yet-to-be-determined team.