2020 Tokyo Olympics baseball Day 8 best bets: Japan marches on past South Korea

Team Japan infielder Hayato Sakamoto (6) hits a home run during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium
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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 a big game coming up, a semi-final showdown between South Korea and hosts Japan. I’ve done pretty well with these bets recently, let’s keep it going.

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

Olympic baseball Day 8 best bet: Japan -1.5 (-135)

Japan is a solid favorite here, and for good reason. They were the favorites to win gold when this whole thing started, and everything they’ve done so far shows that respect was well deserved. Not only are they undefeated, they’ve also already beaten Team USA. To say they’ve got a big edge on the mound here would be an understatement.

Japan will start their young phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who has a 1.82 ERA in the NPB this season. He already started once in these Olympics, and was flat-out dominant. In their opener against the Dominican Republic he was untouchable, throwing six scoreless innings and allowing only two hits while striking out nine.

I don’t see any reason to believe he’ll struggle with this middling South Korea offense. South Korea will start Young-Pyo Ko, who before this season hadn’t even pitched in the KBO since 2018. His career ERA in the KBO is 5.01. In his first start of these Olympics, he got roughed up, giving up four runs in 4 and 2/3 innings.

Now he’s got to face the best team in this tournament, and to top it all off he’s pitching on short rest. He started South Korea’s game on July 31st, and will be pitching on just three days rest here. If that’s not a recipe for disaster I don’t know what is. Yamamoto on the other hand hasn’t pitched since the opening game back on July 27th, so he’s well-rested.

I just haven’t been impressed by this South Korea team period. They lost to Team USA, only beat the Dominican Republic by one after a wild three-run comeback in the ninth inning, and didn’t look particularly impressive in their first game against Israel. In that one they again won in wild walk-off fashion, winning thanks to a game-ending hit by pitch. They won’t be nearly as lucky here.

Make sure you check out the rest of our picks for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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