2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball Day 6 best bets: Tanaka can lead Japan to victory

Japan players celebrate defeating Mexico during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium
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Andrew Ortenberg


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I'm an NFL handicapper here at Pickswise who was raised in a household full of sports fanatics. Since I unfortunately never had LeBron James' jumping ability I wasn't able to make it to the NBA, and chose writing about sports as the next best thing. An avid sports bettor myself, I'm excited to get to write about the industry as it gets set to take off across the country. Buckle up. For Andrew Ortenberg media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.
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Olympic baseball is back for the first time since 2008. The action is underway in Tokyo, and the games so far have been thrilling. We have two games coming up, Israel/South Korea and then Japan/Team USA in the early hours of the morning. I have cashed two of my last three Olympic baseball best bets: First the over in the USA/Israel game a couple days ago, and then USA -1.5 yesterday over South Korea. I lost on the Dominican Republic early this morning, but we had them at +195 and they had a 3-1 lead in the ninth inning before melting down. It was clearly a good value play.

In any case, let’s make it three out of four!

You can view all of our Olympics picks here, but right now we’re talking baseball. Let’s dive in.

Olympic baseball Day 6 best bet: Japan -165

I thought about taking the run line for the plus money, but I’m playing it safe with Japan on the money line. They were the favorites to win gold at +175, and I recommended a futures play on them. Japan has gone 2-0 so far and still very much looks like the favorite.

They’ve got several advantages. First of all, rest. Japan last played on July 30 and had two days off, so their bullpen should be very fresh. Then there’s the starting pitching matchup. Masahiro Tanaka will make his highly anticipated Olympic debut for Japan.

Tanaka is arguably the most accomplished player of this entire tournament, and he’s certainly the most accomplished player who isn’t well past his prime. He’s still only 32 and was good enough to be an MLB All-Star as recently as 2019. Nobody else in this whole field can say anything close to that.

There is no reason to believe he won’t dominate this Team USA lineup full of young minor leaguers. As such, we should need only a few runs to cash this. Japan’s offense is coming off a great game in which they produced 10 hits and 7 runs against Mexico.

We won’t quite need them to replicate that, but they have a good shot to with Team USA starting Shane Baz. Baz is a solid prospect, but he’s a 22-year-old who had never played above A-ball before this season. His five starts in AAA this year won’t be quite enough to prepare him for this massive stage.

The pressure should get to him, while Tanaka has been there and done that when it comes to pitching under the bright lights. Japan can pick up their third win in a row to stay perfect.

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