Pittsburgh Pirates Set For Grapefruit League Opener


The Grapefruit League season is ready to start

Finally, baseball is back! At 1:05 PM this afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates will travel to Clearwater, Florida, to do battle with the Philadelphia Phillies in their 2019 Grapefruit League opener.

When the first pitch of the Pirates Grapefruit League season is fired it will be by Philly righty Enyel De Los Santos. This will be Philadelphia’s second game of the Grapefruit season. Yesterday, the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 to kick off their Grapefruit schedule.

Saturday’s contest will feature something new for Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitchers – a pitch clock. This spring, MLB will experiment with a 20 second pitch count in an effort to speed up the pace of play. Saturday will be the first time that the Bucs’ pitching staff will subject to the pitch clock.

Left-handed pitcher Steven Brault will start for the Pirates this afternoon. In 45 games (5 starts) Brault posted a 4.61 ERA and a 4.92 FIP in 91 2/3 innings pitched. This offseason Brault changed his delivery in an effort to improve his control. This game will be his first chance to use the new delivery in game action.

Brault is competing with Jordan Lyles and Nick Kingham for the team’s fifth and final rotation spot this spring. If he does not win the final rotation spot, he will have an opportunity to earn a spot in the Pirate bullpen. However, due to Kingham being out of minor league options and the addition of Francisco Liriano in free agency, odds are, Brault will start the season at Triple-A.

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Brault is one of six pitchers scheduled to pitch for the Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Clay Holmes, Michael Feliz, Brandon Maurer, Aaron Slegers, and Geoff Hartlieb are also scheduled to pitch for the Bucs this afternoon. Even though Holmes and Feliz pitched at the MLB level for the Pirates last season, each of these pitchers appear ticketed for Triple-A to start the season.