For the second time this spring, the Pittsburgh Pirates are preparing for split squad action
On Thursday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates were powered by five solo home runs. The fifth and final was a walk off shot by Cole Tucker, his second of the day, in a 5-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. With this win, the team is now 7-5-1 in Grapefruit League play.
Next up for the Bucs is split squad action on Friday afternoon. One team will stay home in Bradenton and host one Toronto Blue Jays squad at LECOM Park. Another Pirate team will head to Dunedin where the Blue Jays will play host.
At home, Trevor Williams will get the ball for the Pirates. Williams is coming off a superb 2018 campaign in which he posted a 3.11 ERA, 3.86 FIP, and a 2.5 fWAR. Williams will now be looked upon to help lead the Pirate rotation in 2019.
After Williams, three more pitchers are scheduled to pitch. This includes top prospect Mitch Keller. In two starts this spring Keller has struggled. He has pitched just 1 inning in each of these starts, and will be looking to start to build some momentum on Friday afternoon.
Aaron Slegers and Dovydas Neverauskas are scheduled to pitch as well. Slegers is penciled into the rotation at Triple-A Indianapolis, while Neverauskas will be a member of the Indy bullpen when the season begins.
Meanwhile, in Dunedin, Rookie Davis will make the start. This will be his second start of the spring for the Pirates. In his first outing Davis pitched 2 scoreless innings. He will look to continue to impress in his efforts to win the final spot in the starting rotation.
When Davis day comes to an end, prospect JT Brubaker will take the mound. After being named the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2018, Brubaker has allowed one run in 4 innings pitched this spring. He will start the season in the Triple-A rotation, and should make his MLB debut at some point in 2019.
Michael Feliz, Luis Escobar, and Eduardo Vera are all scheduled to pitch after Brubaker. Feliz has flashed his excellent stuff this spring, but his wildness and struggles with the long ball have been there as well. Escobar and Vera are two intriguing names to watch at Double-A this season.
First pitch from Bradenton is scheduled for 1:05 PM, and that game can be seen on AT&T SportsNet. First pitch from Dunedin is scheduled for 1:07 PM, and you can listen to the game on pirates.com and the MLB At Bat App.