By Sam Bush
Phillies manager Joe Girardi is handing the ball to right-hander Nick Pivetta to start the opener Saturday against the Tigers.
Aaron Nola will start Sunday against the Pirates and Vince Velasquez will start Monday against the Orioles .
Nola is the presumed opening day starter on March 26 in Miami, but Pivetta and Velasquez are competing for the No. 5 job in the rotation.
“I think it’s important that all these guys that are competing for the last spots get a ton of looks and we can afford to do that,” Girardi said yesterday. “We have a number of games, we have split squads. We’ll look at people. I think it’s important that we do that, that we’re fair to everyone, because it’s fair to the team that way.”
Nola, Zack Wheeler and Jake Arrieta are the top three pitchers in the rotation. Zach Eflin is expected to be the No. 4 starter, although the Phillies have said he is competing alongside Velasquez, Pivetta and left-hander Ranger Suárez.
The No. 5 job is unquestionably wide open.