Phillies: Three players who could make or break the 2020 season
By Hunter Doyle
The Phillies really need Spencer Howard to step up
Howard has had success at each level during his minor league career. In 47 career minor league starts (211.1 innings), he is 13-10 with a 3.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .215 AVG against, and 281 strikeouts to just 74 walks. 2018 was the only season in which he stayed at one level for the entire season and exceeded 100 innings. The result? A 9-8 record, 3.78 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .240 AVG against, and 147 strikeouts to just 40 walks in 23 starts and 112 innings. Not a bad second season in the pros.
In 2019, he started the year in single-a advanced with Clearwater. While he only started in seven games and threw just 35 innings, the numbers were still pretty impressive, to say the least. He went 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, .162 AVG against, and 48 strikeouts to just five walks.
With a red-hot start to the season, the Phillies moved him right up to double-a with the Reading Fightin Phils. In six starts and 30.2 innings, he went 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .180 AVG against, and 38 strikeouts to just nine walks. In the Arizona Fall League this past year, he also made six starts and threw 21.1 innings with a record of 1-1, 2.11 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts to just ten walks.
The Phillies weren’t patient when moving him up to double-a and it paid off. In the past, they haven’t been afraid to bring guys up early. Odubel Herrera was a rule five draft pick out of double-a and then was a productive starter for the Phillies for his first few seasons. Some people thought that Jorge Alfaro needed more time in triple-a but he came up and hit .318 in the final months of the 2017 season. Then, he was a reliable starter in 2018 for the Phillies and in 2019 for the Marlins.
If Philly gives Spencer Howard some time to work with the coaching staff before calling him up, this team could receive a major boost. On the other hand, if they don’t give him a shot at some point this year, they could miss out on a special opportunity and suffer from Pivetta or Velasquez struggling as the fifth starter in the rotation.