By: Kevin Durso, editorial assistant
CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Phillies (14-7-3) have been near the top of the Grapefruit League standings for much of the spring, stringing together a solid month.
Much of that success has been led by Maikel Franco, who continued his torrid spring with his eighth home run on Friday night. Franco gets the day off on Saturday, but the rest of the Phillies get to continue preparations for the upcoming season.
The Phillies have just three games left in Clearwater and five left in Florida before making the trek back up the coast for the start of the season. They take on another of the Grapefruit League's top teams on Saturday afternoon, hosting the Detroit Tigers (14-9-1).
Starting Pitching Matchup:
James Russell makes his first start of the spring after appearing in five games as a relief pitcher. He has allowed one run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings in those five appearances. Russell's most recent appearance came in Friday night's tie with Toronto, where he retired the only batter he faced with a three-pitch strikeout.
Justin Verlander takes the ball for the Tigers and makes his fifth start of the spring. Verlander allowed his first runs of the spring in his last start against Washington, surrendering three runs on six hits in five innings. He gave up two home runs in the start and hit a batter. He did not walk a batter and struck out two. The five-inning start was Verlander's longest of the spring, and he figured to be stretched out even further. Each of his previous four starts have been one inning longer than the previous start.