On Saturday, the Pittsburgh Pirates will play their final exhibition game of the spring. Their opponent will be their AA farm team the Altoona Curve. The Pirates will be providing the pitching for both teams to ensure their guys get in the work they need. The starting pitcher for Altoona will be Pirates closer Jason Grilli.
Starting a ballgame isn’t a totally foreign concept for Grilli. It’s just that his last start came in 2005 with the Detroit Tigers. He actually has more starts in the big leagues, 16, than saves, five.
It is actually a great idea by the Pirates. This will ensure that Grilli starts a clean inning and he will also be facing the top of the Pirates lineup. They will definitely be able to far better tell if Grilli is ready by him facing top of the line hitters rather than minor leaguers. It will be his seventh appearance of the spring, not including his time with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. He has allowed three earned runs in six innings pitched.
I’m interested to see just how well Grilli does in his brief start on Saturday. He is one of the biggest question marks coming into this new season and any hint at what he might do, going forward, is welcomed.
James McDonald will get the start for the big club. He is penciled in as the team’s third starter behind A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez. He has had an average spring. It will be nice to see him reign in his stuff because he has allowed quite a few walks so far.