Phillies: Spencer Howard to debut in doubleheader vs. Braves

Phillies top pitching prospect Spencer Howard will debut this weekend

The wait appears to finally be over. Top Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Spencer Howard is slated to make his Major League debut this Sunday in Game 2 of the doubleheader opposite the division-rival Atlanta Braves at Citizens Bank Park.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Scott Lauber, the Phillies intend to call up Howard; they have reportedly already informed him that he will be promoted from the team’s alternate training site in Lehigh Valley this weekend.

With both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler pitching in Wednesday’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees, and Friday’s rainout against the Braves necessitating another seven-inning twin-bill on Sunday, the Phillies almost had no other choice but to give Howard a chance to shine for the first time in big-league action.

Vince Velasquez, the Phillies probable starter for the postponed series opener on Friday, will now pitch in Game 1 on Sunday; Jake Arrieta, meanwhile, will still take the mound during his regularly scheduled start on Saturday.

More than 20 percent (14 games) of the Phillies’ 60 games this season are now scheduled as seven-inning doubleheaders.

RELATED | Phillies: Alec Bohm, Spencer Howard among top 100 MLB prospects

Howard, 24, was ranked as the 27th-best prospect by Baseball America entering the 2020 season. He has yet to appear in regular season game action above the Double-A level, albeit pitching at the team’s alternate training site since summer camp broke last month.

In six starts last season for the Reading Fightin’ Phils, Howard went 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA, 0.946 WHIP, and 38-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 30 2/3 innings.

https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1283948544806850562

MLBPipeline.com praises Howard for his “four potential out pitches,” and for having touched 99 miles per hour during his Arizona Fall League stint last year.

“His breaking balls are two distinct pitches and on any given day, he can use either as out pitches, with his slider a shade better than his curve,” MLB Pipeline continues. “The right-hander’s changeup has taken a huge jump forward and it was one of the nastiest secondary offerings in the AFL.”

RELATED | Phillies: Jake Arrieta, Spencer Howard key for 2020 rotation

“He’ll throw it at any point in the count and his confidence in the pitch, which has fade, depth and downward action, has risen as he’s thrown it more,” MLB Pipeline adds.

It is good to see the Phillies are finally giving Howard a chance in the majors. Being a ways into the season now, likely, the service time situation has already surpassed and the team has gained an extra year of control of Howard’s contract.

With that distraction out of the way, and with Howard continuing to impress this year, nothing is stopping him from making his first career start on Sunday in Game 2 of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Braves.