2. Spencer Howard
Having never pitched a game in Triple-A was a recipe for struggle in the big leagues; even with his arm talent, starting pitcher Spencer Howard fell victim to a lack of experience and maturity in the 2020 campaign. Going through his first big-league camp (twice) with six months in between was certainly difficult for a pitcher like Howard to try and find a routine in his young career.
And yet, we still saw incredible promise. Howard’s stuff plays, and a simple two-pitch mix was enough to strike out a batter an inning, despite a lack of command that played into his eventual doom.
With a full offseason of training and working with a big-league coaching staff, Howard can harness his repertoire. Consistency in innings and workload will help a guy that has moved very quickly through a farm system.
The Phillies need to be a little patient with Howard, who answered the bell when the pitching depth crumbled.
1. Connor Brogdon
A sort of unknown commodity for the Phillies, right-handed reliever Connor Brogdon came on strong at the end of last season, aiding a struggling bullpen that didn’t know who the innings were going to come from.
It comes as a surprise that it took him until his age 25 season to break into the big leagues, as Brogdon posted a 2.50 ERA with 230 strikeouts over 180 relief innings in parts of three minor league seasons. And the success is recognizable.
Brogdon is very tall, yet very thin; he can run his fastball up to 97-98 miles per hour, mixing in a couple of breaking offerings. Everything plays up due to his size and delivery. After a rough debut in 2020, Brogdon struck out 14 batters over his next nine innings, allowing only two runs.
Looking internally for bullpen success seems a little dire given the Phillies recent failures, but Brogdon — if given time to develop at the big-league level — could be the rare Phillies bullpen success story.