Phillies top prospect Spencer Howard could pitch on Sunday
The time for the Phillies top pitching prospect might be now
Coming off a doubleheader last weekend, the Phillies might have to call up their top pitching prospect, Spencer Howard.
Currently, the Phillies rotation against the Braves is set with Vince Velasquez pitching on Friday and Jake Arrieta taking the mound on Saturday. After that, the Phillies would have an empty spot in the rotation after Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler started games in the doubleheader on Wednesday.
When asked whether Howard will be called up to make his major league debut against Atlanta on Sunday, manager Joe Girardi said “stay tuned” and that Howard was “a guy” in the mix for the start.
The Phillies could have picked Nick Pivetta to make a spot start coming out of the bullpen, but he pitched two innings of relief on Thursday, giving up a two-run home run to Garry Sanchez and striking out two Yankees in the 5-4 win.
Given how stingy the Phillies bullpen has been and the condensed schedule, it’s unlikely they opt for a “bullpen game” against a division opponent.
All signs are pointing to the Phillies calling up Spencer Howard
Howard, who was recently named the 37th best prospect in baseball, has been pitching in Lehigh Valley with the rest of the 60-man roster.
If the 24-year-old does get the call, how long would he stay with the big league team? That’ll depend on both his and Velasquez’s performances against Atlanta. If Velasquez has another game where he can’t get out of the fourth inning, the Phillies can finally move him to the bullpen and hope he turns into a reliable late-inning arm.
With how the schedule lays out, Girardi have Arrieta “jump” Howard in the rotation and pitch on August 13 against Baltimore on five days rest and have Howard face the Mets the next day on normal rest.
The way the schedule sits right now, Philadelphia has off days on the 17th and 24th with a doubleheader on 20th against the Blue Jays in Buffalo. The off days will work out the rotation around the Toronto series and set the club up for their toughest stretch of the season.
Following the series in Buffalo, the Phillies will have six games against Atlanta and seven against the Nationals within 14 days going into September. This could make or break the season for any of those three clubs and having the best rotation possible is crucial.
There are certainly plenty of options for the Phillies to send to the alternate site in Lehigh Valley to clear space for Howard on the roster. If he is called up, it’ll be one of the most anticipated debuts in recent Phillies history.