6 Phillies set to pitch in Sunday’s spring training opener

JD Hammer #65 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
JD Hammer #65 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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These 6 Phillies pitchers are scheduled to appear against the Tigers on Sunday.

Although it will be just an exhibition contest, Sunday still marks the long-awaited return of Philadelphia Phillies baseball games. The team will begin its 28-game Grapefruit League schedule opposite the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida.

Manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Caleb Cotham have tabbed the following six pitchers to  appear in the spring opener, whose first pitch is set for 1:05 p.m.

1. Ivan Nova

Before the Phillies signed Matt Moore and Chase Anderson to major-league deals this offseason as rotation depth, the club inked fellow veteran starter Ivan Nova to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training.

An 11-year veteran who pitched under Girardi with the New York Yankees from 2010 to 2016, the Dominican Republic native will still receive consideration for the rotation as a potential complement to Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, and Zach Eflin.

The 34-year-old will start Sunday’s game opposite the Tigers, who he appeared in four starts with last season before suffering right triceps tendinitis. In 19 innings, Nova allowed 18 runs (all earned), and struck out as many batters as he walked (9). His best season came in 2011, when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year Award race.

2. David Hale

Right-hander David Hale also once pitched for the Yankees, although not under Girardi. He went a combined 3-0 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, and 36-11 strikeouts-to-walks ratio spanning 28 appearances for them between 2018-20.

Desperate to address their bullpen, manager Matt Klentak acquired Hale from the Yankees last August for minor-league right-hander Addison Russ. The Phillies used Hale sparingly, with him appearing in just four relief appearances and two starts. Combined, he posted a 4.09 ERA, 1.545 WHIP, and 7-1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio across 11 innings.

Hale is currently on the active, big-league roster, but could be a DFA candidate if the team wants to give Nova or another one of its non-roster invitees a chance in the majors early on.