Phillies Announce Rotation for First 3 Spring Training Games

SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 10: Nick Pivetta #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Sarasota, Florida. The Phillies won 8-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
SARASOTA, FL - MARCH 10: Nick Pivetta #43 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during a Grapefruit League spring training game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on March 10, 2019 in Sarasota, Florida. The Phillies won 8-5. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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With spring training games just days away, the Phillies have set their first three starting pitchers, two of whom are competing for the final rotation spot.

It is hard to believe, but the Philadelphia Phillies’ first Grapefruit League game of 2020 is less than four days away.

And, with the imminent slate of spring training exhibition set to begin, the new-look, Joe Girardi-led team has begun to plan their starting rotation.

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On Tuesday, the Phillies announced that right-hander Nick Pivetta will start Saturday’s opener opposite the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland. Then, Cy Young Award hopeful Aaron Nola will take the mound in the spring home opener opposite the split-squad Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, followed by right-hander Vince Velasquez, home against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

Pivetta, 27, returns for his fourth season in red pinstripes; so far, he has a sub-.500 winning percentage in each of his three seasons (.444, .333 and .400) en route to a career 19-30 record, 5.34 ERA, and 1.426 WHIP across 89 games and 71 starts. The Phillies acquired him from the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals in July 2015 in exchange for franchise saves leader Jonathan Papelbon.

While Nola, 26, led the majors in games started last season (34), he experienced a setback in wins and ERA compared to his top-three Cy Young Award finish from 2018. Nola returns for his sixth season with the team, after going 53-35 with an overall 3.49 ERA and 1.172 WHIP. He figures to be team’s Opening Day starting pitcher come March 26, away against the Miami Marlins.

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Velasquez, 27, will get another look as a starting pitcher, after making 10 relief appearances last season among 23 starts. In his career, he has a 4.67 ERA as a starter (99 games, 493 2/3 innings), and a 4.66 ERA as a reliever (23 games, 29 innings). The odds may be stacked against the right-hander earning a rotation spot, as he is not only competing with Pivetta, but also Cole Irvin, and Ranger Suarez, among others.

Right-handers Nola, Zack Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, and Zach Eflin hold the top four spots in the rotation.