On Wednesday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Pirates will travel to Fort Myers to battle the Minnesota Twins in the 26th game of Grapefruit League action.
Opening Day is almost here. In just eight days, the Pittsburgh Pirates will travel to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati to start their season-opening series against the Reds.
Up next on the road to Opening Day is the 26th game of the Pirates Grapefruit League schedule. Game 26 will take the Pirates to Fort Myers to play the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday afternoon. In this game, Joe Musgrove will make his second start of the spring.
While this is just Musgrove’s second start in Grapefruit League action, he has gotten plenty of work in this spring. Musgrove has also pitched in two simulated games this spring, and will be ready to go for the third game of the season in Cincinnati on March 31st.
Musgrove is scheduled to pitch 5 innings for the Pirates before turning the ball over to the bullpen. When Clint Hurdle goes to the ‘pen, four pitchers are scheduled to pitch in relief on Wednesday. These four pitchers are Nick Burdi, Michael Feliz, Clay Holmes, and Brandon Maurer.
Burdi has all but locked up a spot in the Opening Day bullpen with his performance this spring. Over the weekend, I talked about how Burdi has seized the opportunity presented to him by the Pirates this spring. Since then, Burdi made an appearance against the Red Sox on Sunday in which he retired all six batters he faced. In 8 1/3 innings pitched this spring Burdi has allowed just two runs on a home run, four hits, three walks, and 12 strikeouts. Barring an injury, Burdi should be a big part of the team’s middle relief to start the season.
Feliz, Holmes, and Maurer are all competing for a spot in the bullpen as well. However, with four bullpen spots locked up and both Burdi and Francisco Liriano looking like safe bets as well, that leaves just one spot. Odds are, due to a lack of minor league options, this spot will go to Nick Kingham.
Both Feliz and Holmes pitched for the Pirates last season, and both seem ticketed for the bullpen at Triple-A Indianapolis to start the season. In 11 innings pitched this spring Feliz has walked just three batters while striking out nine, but he’s allowed four home runs leading to a 4.91 ERA. Holmes has struck out nine and allowed just one home run in 9 innings of work, however, his control issues have continued as he’s walked five and plunked a batter while posting a 4.00 ERA.
Maurer is a pitcher that has had MLB success in the past. After struggling immensely last season (7.76 ERA, 6.58 FIP, -0.9 fWAR) he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates this offseason. He’s pitched just 3 2/3 innings in Grapefruit League play and has allowed five runs (two earned) on four hits, a home run, a walk, and three strikeouts. If he accepts his minor league assignment, he could be an intriguing bullpen arm later in the season.
First pitch from Fort Myers is scheduled for 1:05 PM on Wednesday afternoon. You can listen to the game on pirates.com or the MLB At Bat App. Also, you can watch the Twins broadcast on mlb.tv or the MLB At Bat App if you are not in the Pittsburgh market.