Pittsburgh Pirates Grapefruit League Game 23: An Opening Day Preview?
Sunday afternoon could prove to be an Opening Day preview for Pittsburgh Pirates fans
Sunday afternoon the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the defending World Series Champion Boston Red Sox at LEXOM Park in Bradenton. In their 23rd game of the Grapefruit League season, the Pirates will roll with a lineup that could prove to be a preview of Opening Day.
Opening Day at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati is just 11 days away. The starting nine that fans will see today is likely to be the starting nine that Clint Hurdle will write on his lineup card on Opening Day. This includes Opening Day starting pitcher Jameson Taillon.
- Adam Frazier – 2B
- Starling Marte – CF
- Corey Dickerson – LF
- Josh Bell – 1B
- Francisco Cervelli – C
- Lonnie Chisenhall – RF
- Jung Ho Kang – 3B
- Erik Gonzalez – SS
- Jameson Taillon – SP
All signs point toward Kang unseating Colin Moran as the starting third baseman to begin the season. This does not come as much of a surprise as Kang has launched five home runs this spring, has played stellar defense at third base, and is looking like the All-Star caliber player he was in 2015 and 2016.
Another position still worth watching is shortstop. While Gonzalez is the better defensive option, despite his two errors this spring, and remains the likely starter, Kevin Newman can not be counted out just yet. Newman is slashing .276/.290/.448 this spring, and, while this is not great, it is much better than Gonzalez’s .214/.267/.321 slash line. Newman’s minor league offensive results were always superior to Gonzalez’s, too.
After Taillon’s day ends, three others pitchers are scheduled to take the mound for the Pirates. These pitchers are lefty Francisco Liriano, and righties Nick Burdi and Brandon Maurer.
Liriano continues to look like a near lock to be a member of the Opening Day bullpen. Outside of one disastrous outing in which he walked all four batters he faced, Liriano has allowed just one run on four hits, two walks, and four strikeouts in 6 innings pitched this spring. As for Maurer, who was also signed to a minor league deal this offseason, he appears destined for Triple-A to start the season.
Burdi remains a person of interest this spring. Yesterday, we discussed how he has seized the opportunity given to him by the Pirates this spring. In 6 1/3 innings pitched this spring he has allowed two runs while striking out 11. Expect Burdi to be a key cog in the Pirate bullpen this season.
First pitch on Sunday afternoon is scheduled for 1:05 PM. You can watch the game on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. The game will also be broadcast on the radio on the Pirates Radio Network.