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MLB: Pitching staffs well rested when Pirates meet Tigers

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Wintry conditions on Tuesday forced a delay to the opener of a the three-game series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Detroit Tigers.

Because of rain, possible snow and cold temperatures, the opener will be made up as part of a split, seven-inning doubleheader on Wednesday.

With both teams also having an off day Monday, the pitching staffs will be fresh for the series.

Right-hander Michael Fulmer (1-0, 3.00 ERA) is scheduled to start the afternoon opener for Detroit. Fulmer, whose career was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery, won his first game since 2018 on Wednesday in his first start this season, beating Houston. He pitched five innings and gave up two runs.

He faced the Pirates twice early in his career, holding them to one run in 14 innings.

He’ll be opposed by Pittsburgh left-hander Tyler Anderson (1-2, 4.02), who collected his first victory of the season on Wednesday. Anderson held San Diego to one run in 5 1/3 innings. He’ll face the Tigers for the first time in his career.

The second game will feature the season debut for Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull. He’s been on the COVID-19 injured list since spring training.

Turnbull pitched 4 1/3 innings against Cincinnati’s alternate-site squad in his final tuneup on Thursday. He was the Tigers’ most effective starter last season, going 4-4 with a 3.97 ERA in 11 starts. He’s 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA in two career starts against Pittsburgh.

With Turnbull joining the rotation, left-hander Tarik Skubal will have one to three scheduled stints out of the bullpen before manager A.J. Hinch makes another adjustment.

Skubal is 0-2 with a 6.08 ERA in three starts.

“It has nothing to do with performance or health,” Hinch said. “It’s a long-term view and a long-term plan for trying to get these guys through the season. It’s a plan, not a reaction to anything.”

Skubal likely will be the first reliever in the second game Wednesday.

“We don’t think (Turnbull) is going to step right in and go six, seven, eight innings,” Hinch said.

Pittsburgh’s second-game starter, right-hander Mitch Keller (1-2, 8.74), got hammered in his last start by San Diego. He gave up seven runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 innings in an 8-3 loss Thursday.

The Padres scored four runs in the first inning.

“I was all around the zone where I wanted to be, I was throwing pitches where I wanted to — just the first inning had some bad pitches there,” Keller said.

Keller has faced Detroit once, giving up four runs (two earned) in five innings in a no-decision.

Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who has played only two games due to a left-wrist strain, could return in the series.

That could force shifting around several positions, including a move by hot-hitting Bryan Reynolds from left field to center. Reynolds reached base eight times in a three-game weekend series at Milwaukee and scored five runs.

“He’s definitely comfortable out there,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “He takes balls out there, and he’s played center field in the past. So my comfort with him out there is very strong.”

Reynolds also likes having the responsibility of patrolling center field.

“I felt comfortable over there,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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