The battle for the final spot in the Pittsburgh Pirates starting rotation will continue on Tuesday afternoon
Yesterday, the Pittsburgh Pirates named their starting third baseman and shortstop for the 2019 season. However, the battle for the fifth and final spot in their starting rotation continues on. That battle will continues on Tuesday afternoon.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Pirates will host the Detroit Tigers at LECOM Park in Bradenton. The game’s first pitch will be thrown by left-handed pitcher Steven Brault. Brault finds himself in a battle with Jordan Lyles and Nick Kingham for the final spot in the starting rotation.
All three pitchers have struggled this spring, but on Monday Kingham turned in a strong start. After pitching 5 scoreless innings against the Tampa Bay Rays, Kingham has now pitched at least 4 scoreless innings in two of his last three starts. Meanwhile, Lyles pitched 4 innings in a simulated game on Monday.
Grapefruit League action has not been kind to Brault. In 10 innings pitched this spring Brault has allowed 12 hits, a home run, he’s hit a batter, and walked five on his was to posting a 6.30 ERA. So far, his new delivery has not worked out the way he or the Pirates had hoped.
As Brault continues to struggle, it appears more and more likely that he will start the season at the Triple-A level. With just 9 days remaining until Opening Day, Tuesday could prove to be his last opportunity to make a claim for an Opening Day roster spot.
After Brault, four more pitchers are scheduled to pitch. Back end of the bullpen arms Felipe Vazquez and Keone Kela will each get an inning of work in. Lefty Francisco Liriano and righty Rookie Davis are scheduled to pitch as well.
Outside of one disastrous outing, Liriano has pitched well this spring. In an outing against the Yankees last week Liriano walked all four batters he faced and allowed three runs. In his other six outings, Liriano has allowed one run on four hits, two walks, and five strikeouts in 7 innings pitched.
Liriano will have a decision to make about his future on Wednesday. On Wednesday, Liriano will have the opportunity to opt out of his contract if he’d so choose. However, all signs point toward Liriano earning a spot in the bullpen meaning he will not opt out of his contract.
Davis was signed as a minor league free agent earlier this month and is still working his way toward being in game shape. Look for Davis to begin the season as a member of the starting rotation at Triple-A.
Tuesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM. The game will be televised locally on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh. You can also listen to the radio broadcast locally on KDKA AM 1020, as well as on pirates.com and the MLB At Bat App.