Pittsburgh Pirates Grapefruit League Game 20: Trevor Williams Toes The Rubber

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Trevor Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the second inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on September 22, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Trevor Williams #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates delivers a pitch in the second inning during the game against the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park on September 22, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates will play their 20th game of their Grapefruit League schedule on Thursday afternoon

Two weeks from today the Pittsburgh Pirates will begin the regular season against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark. Real baseball is so, so near. Until then, we will have to continue to wet our pallets with Spring Training games.

On Thursday afternoon, the Bucs will play their 20th game of the spring. The team will host the Philadelphia Phillies at LECOM Park in Bradenton in what will be a split squad game for the Phillies. When the game’s first pitch is thrown, it will be by righty Trevor Williams.

After pitching in two simulated games, this will be the second start of the Grapefruit League season for Williams. In his first start of the spring things did not go well for Williams. He allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and a pair of home runs allowed in just 3 innings of work.

However, there is little reason to worry about Williams. While it is unlikely he repeats the 3.11 ERA he had last season, his 3.86 FIP, 20.3% soft contact rate, and 29.3% hard contact rate were all better than league average.

Following Williams, Clay Holmes, Brandon Maurer, Francisco Liriano, and Nick Burdi are all scheduled to pitch as well. Holmes, who is likely to play a starter/reliever swing role at Triple-A Indianapolis this season, owns a 5.14 ERA to go with five walks and seven strikeouts in 7 innings pitched this spring. This continues Holmes career trend of racking up strikeouts, but also issuing too many walks.

Maurer, who is competing for a spot in the bullpen after signing a minor league contract, is also likely to start the season with Indianapolis. In just 1 2/3 innings of work in Grapefruit League games, the veteran righty has allowed four runs, one earned, on two hits, a walk, and two strikeouts.

As for Liriano and Burdi, both are expected to be part of the Opening Day bullpen. Prior to his last outing Liriano had pitched well this spring. However, in his most recent outing he walked all four batters he faced before being pulled from the game. Prior to that Liriano had allowed just four base runners (two base hits and two walks) to go with three strikeouts in 5 innings pitched.

Burdi has pitched well for the Pirates this spring. In 5 1/3 innings pitched he’s allowed a home run and walked three batters, but he has also struck out nine while flashing a wipe out slider. Burdi could develop into a real weapon out of the bullpen for Clint Hurdle this season.

Next. 4 Prospects That Made An Impact This Spring. dark

First pitch on Thursday afternoon is scheduled for 1:05 PM. The game will be televised locally on AT&T SportsNet. You can also listen to the game on mlb.com and the MLB At Bat App.

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