Spencer Howard will finally make his debut for the Philadelphia Phillies.
The team's top pitching prospect was informed he will be starting in one of Sunday's doubleheader, according to Scott Lauber of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It comes after days of speculation about when Howard would make his big league debut.
Howard awed fans during his Summer Camp outings when he tossed three scoreless innings and flashed great breaking pitches. There were many fans and players alike advocating for Howard to stay on the team out of camp, but the Phillies delayed his arrival to exercise an extra year of team control. Howard only needed to spend six days in Lehigh Valley at the start of the season for the Phillies to retain him for another year.
The 24-year-old has been the Phillies top pitching prospect for sevearl years now and made some noise at the end of last year when he made six starts in Double-A. The righthander has pitched just 30.2 innings above A-ball, but the Phillies believe in his stuff.
“If he is the guy we think he, and we do, he’s going to have a really nice future in Philadelphia,” said Phillies pitching coach Bryan Price before the season.” But at some point in time, he has to develop a workload. Last year was shortened by injury on the front end. Workload is important... I would really hope and expect to see him pitching here, if not on Opening Day. At some point in time, he really needs to work and I think he’s ready to compete at this level.”
Howard also impressed in the Arizona Fall League, where each MLB team's top prospects compete after the minor league season is over. Howard had a miniscule 2.11 ERA in six starts and struck out 27 batters in just over 21 innings.
Howard will join a rotation that features Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez. With 14 doubleheaders in the remaining 53 games, the Phillies could operate a six-man rotation to ease the burden on each starter. The team's starting pitching has generally done well, pitching to a 3.72 ERA over the first seven games. The bullpen, however, has struggled mightly with a 7.89 ERA.