The United States punched its ticket to the World Baseball Classic title game on Sunday night, cruising to victory against Cuba in the semifinals via a score of 14–2. While the Americans await the result of the Mexico vs. Japan semifinal on the opposite side of the bracket, manager Mark DeRosa hinted at the team's pitching plans for the title game.
While DeRosa didn't definitively declare Kelly as the starting pitcher, he indicated that the 34-year-old was in line to start.
"It looks like Merrill Kelly's day," said DeRosa of Tuesday's starter. "We'll sit down and discuss it further."
The USA brushed Cuba aside in the semifinal on Sunday thanks to more heroics from superstar infielder Trea Turner. The Phillies star added two more home runs to his tally after hitting the go-ahead grand slam on Saturday night against Venezuela.
With a chance to repeat as WBC champions, the USA will likely be handing the ball to Kelly, who has never played in the MLB postseason. The Diamondbacks' right-hander logged 33 starts last season, recording a 3.37 ERA with 177 strikeouts in 200.1 innings.
Kelly pitched for the United States back on Wednesday, surrendering two runs on four hits, with two walks and one strikeout across three innings of work in a win against Colombia.
Now, he's due to make one of the biggest starts of his professional career, barring any last minute changes from DeRosa.