Friday night the Pittsburgh Pirates will travel to Sarasota to play the Baltimore Orioles in their first primetime game of the Grapefruit League season
As the Grapefruit League schedule continues forward in full gear, the Pittsburgh Pirates are prepping for their first primetime matchup of the spring. On Friday night, the 1-3-1 Pirates will travel to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota to play the 2-4 Baltimore Orioles. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 PM.
Pittsburgh's lone victory thus far in Grapefruit League action came against the Orioles on Tuesday. In Thursday's action, the Pirates played split squad action against the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. The Pirates were defeated by the Yankees 9-1, while also tying the Blue Jays at 2.
Vince Velasquez will take the ball and start for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night. While this will be his first start of the Grapefruit League season, Velasquez did pitch 2 scoreless innings in a simulated game this past Sunday.
Since the simulated game does not count toward Grapefruit League standings, this will technically be the first time the 30-year-old veteran has suited up for the Pirates in game action. Velasquez was singed by the Pirates to a one-year deal in free agency this past offseason.
Last season, Velasquez posted a 4.78 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 7.8% walk rate, and a 21.6% strikeout rate in 75.1 innings pitched with the Chicago White Sox. Velasquez pitched in 27 games for the White Sox, 9 of these 27 appearances were starts.
While there was some debate on what Velasquez's role would be with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, it does appear that he will at least start the season in the starting rotation. That could change as the season unfolds, but it appears Derek Shelton and his staff will give Velasquez an opportunity to start.