Pittsburgh Pirates Head To Houston To Finish Exhibition Schedule

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 07: Felipe Vazquez #73 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Francisco Cervelli #29 after the final out in a 5-3 win over the Miami Marlins at PNC Park on September 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 07: Felipe Vazquez #73 of the Pittsburgh Pirates celebrates with Francisco Cervelli #29 after the final out in a 5-3 win over the Miami Marlins at PNC Park on September 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates are done in Florida and now have just two remaining exhibition games before the regular season begins

The 2019 Grapefruit League schedule is in the rear view mirror for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Next up for the team is a trip to Minute Maid Park in Houston. In Huston, the Pirates will play a pair of exhibition games against the Astros in their final tune ups for the regular season.

Following these two games in Houston, the Pirates will travel to Cincinnati where they will begin the regular season at 4:05 on Thursday afternoon. Before getting to the Queen City, Clint Hurdle and his staff will need to finalize their 25-man roster. This will be done following the two games in Houston.

In Monday’s game, the Pirates will go with a bullpen game. Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, Richard Rodriguez, and Nick Burdi are all scheduled to pitch. While it has not yet been made official, all signs point toward Burdi having earned a spot in the Opening Day bullpen after seizing opportunity this spring.

On Tuesday, right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer will make the start. Maurer was added as a minor league free agent during the offseason and has been competing for a spot in the bullpen. This spring Maurer has allowed five runs, two earned, on five hits, a home run, three walks, and three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings pitched.

As of now it appears Maurer will not earn a spot in the bullpen. If he does not, he will then have to decide between electing free agency or accepting a minor league assignment. If it comes to this, hopefully, he will accept his assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis as he could be an intriguing bullpen depth arm.

Starling Marte also expects to get back into the lineup on Monday. He has been out of the lineup since being a late scratch last Thursday with a sore lower back. The Pirates not playing Marte in recent days has appeared to be more precautionary than anything else.

While the Pirates get their relievers work in Houston, Joe Musgrove and Chris Archer will stay behind in Bradenton. Musgrove will pitch in a minor league game on Monday and Archer will do the same on Tuesday. This will be the final tune up for these two before they make their 2019 regular season debuts. Musgrove will start in Cincinnati on Sunday, while Archer will get the ball in the home opener next Monday.

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Monday night’s game is scheduled for 8:10, while Tuesday’s afternoon match up is scheduled to start at 2:10. You can listen to both games on KDKA AM radio in Pittsburgh. Both games will also be broadcast on pirates.com and the MLB At Bat App.

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