Despite suffering a 6-2 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies in Tuesday afternoon’s Grapefruit League action, the Pittsburgh Pirates saw some good things come out of the loss
The Pittsburgh Pirates are now 0-4-1 through their first five Grapefruit League game. This comes following a 6-2 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday.
In the loss, there were some positives for the Pirates. Headlining these was starting pitcher Joe Musgrove. As Big Joe looks to continue to solidify himself as an anchor in the Pirate rotation in 2020, he turned in a strong start on Tuesday.
In his 2020 Grapefruit League debut, Musgrove pitched 2 scoreless innings. After hitting the first batter of the game, Musgrove induced a double play ball and a strikeout to end the inning. He then pitched a 1-2-3 2nd inning.
When his day ended, Musgrove had faced the minimum while pitching a pair of hit less, scoreless innings. It was a sharp outing for Musgrove as he threw just 25 pitches (18 for strikes) and he struck out Scott Kingery with a good looking slider.
Feliz issued a walk and allowed a base hit, but he also struck out a pair. Holmes, like Musgrove, hit the first batter he faced before a double play ball and a strikeout cleaned up the inning.
Being out of minor league options, the Pirates will have a decision to face with Holmes. While he has struggled in his MLB career he possesses electric stuff as a relief pitcher and new pitching coach Oscar Marin could help him tap into his potential. Holmes has now recorded five ground ball outs and a strikeout in 2 scoreless innings this spring. If his strong spring continues, look for him to be a member of the Opening Day bullpen.
Top relief prospect Blake Cederlind also made his second appearance of the spring on Tuesday. He retired all three batters he faced on Tuesday and recorded a strikeout. In 2 innings pitched this spring he has walked a batter and struck out three. While he will start the year in the bullpen at Triple-A Indianapolis, Cederlind will see the Pirate bullpen at some point in 2020.
Pirate regulars in the lineup included shortstop Kevin Newman who went 0-for-3, third baseman Colin Moran who was 0-for-2 with a walk, catcher Luke Maile who was 0-for-2, and Gregory Polanco who went 0-for-1 with a walk and 100+ MPH line out while serving as the designated hitter.
So far this spring Polanco’s swing has looked un-phased by the shoulder issues that cost him most of 2019. This was on display again on Tuesday in his first at bat when he hit an absolute missile, off a left-handed pitcher to boot, but right at ex-Pirate Neil Walker.
The Pirate offense came when non-roster invitee catcher John Ryan Murphy launched a 2-run home run. This was the first Pirate home run of the spring, and one of two hits for Murphy on Tuesday. It remains possible that Murphy could be named the back up catcher to Jacob Stallings as Maile still has minor league options left in order to cultivate catching depth.
Next up for the Bucs is a 1:05 matinee against the Boston Red Sox at LECOM Park on Wednesday afternoon. After pitching 2 scoreless innings in his first start of the spring, Mitch Keller will make his second spring start on Wednesday. Triple-A starter James Marvel is scheduled to pitch after Keller. Bullpen candidates Richard Rodriguez, Dovydas Neverauskas, Nick Burdi, Robbie Erlin, and Sam Howard are all scheduled to pitch as well. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Pittsburgh and MLB.tv, while the Pirates Radio Network will also carry the game.