Jerad Eickhoff starts Thursday for the Phillies
The Phillies will prep for Friday's Grapefruit League opener with an exhibition tune-up against the University of Tampa on Thursday afternoon at Spectrum Field.

Jerad Eickhoff will start the contest for the Phillies and probably toss just an inning, as manager Gabe Kapler expects to use "roughly" nine pitchers against the Division II Spartans.

Eickhoff, 27, finished last season with a 4.71 ERA and missed several starts because of nerve irritation in his pitching hand, also his fastball velocity was down nearly an entire mile-per-hour from 2016, from 91.4-mph to 90.5-mph.

"He's healthy and ready to go," Kapler said of Eickhoff. "He's good."

The next several weeks are going to be crucial for Eickhoff if he wants to showcase himself as a viable long-term option in the starting rotation.

Tampa is ranked No. 16 in the nation and enters Thursday riding a five-game winning streak. Last year, the Phillies shutout the Spartans, 6-0, in what basically was a seven-inning showcase of the organization's top prospects.

The Phillies will open their Grapefruit League schedule on Friday in Dunedin against the Blue Jays. They will play their first Grapefruit League home game on Saturday against Baltimore.

Thursday's Starting Lineup
1. Andrew Knapp, C
2. J.P. Crawford, SS
3. Tommy Joseph, 1B
4. Nick Williams, LF
5. Scott Kingery, 2B
6. Adam Rosales, 3B
7. Dylan Cozens, RF
8. Logan Moore, DH
9. Danny Ortiz, CF
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