The Phillies’ Spencer Howard is among the elite pitching prospects in the game, and one who was expected to make an impact during 2020. How big of an impact, however, could be rapidly changing. Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer recently published the following quote:
“If our season goes the way we hope it’s going to go, Spencer Howard is going to be pitching meaningful innings for this team in the second half of the season and maybe before that,” general manager Matt Klentak said on Feb. 13. “We need to make sure he has enough innings and pitches remaining in his season to help us down the stretch. So every pitch he throws in March is a pitch he’s not going to be able to throw in September.”
As Lauber points out that quote came prior to the start of the season being delayed indefinitely, leaving us all to wonder just how many games will be played this season. Howard didn’t throw many innings in 2019 (71.0 total innings in the regular season, before adding more in the Arizona Fall League), though he threw 112.0 in 2018. That should put him in the 130-140 inning range for the 2020 season, a number that could allow him to be on the active roster from Opening Day depending on what type of schedule is ultimately settled upon.
As we noted when we gave him a “B+” grade, when healthy Howard showed everything we like to see from a pitcher, with the size and repertoire (which allowed him to post a 16.0% SwStr%) to thrive:
- Strikeouts – 11.92 K/9
- Control – 2.03 BB/9
- Groundballs – 45.1%
While home runs could be an issue, considering the groundball rate, opponents need to make contact for the to be an issue. Howard is armed with an impressive arsenal, as described by Baseball America:
- Fastball – “93-99 mph fastball is a reliable, plus-plus weapon. He’s touched triple-digits and, unlike many fireballers, can stay on the edges of the strike zone”
- Changeup – “mid-80s changeup was below-average when he signed, started flashing average last year and by the end of 2019 it was regularly flashing plus thanks to solid deception and some late tumble.”
- Curveball – “when he syncs everything up, it’s a 12-to-6 dive bomber that tunnels with his elevated fastball”
- Slider – “85-88 mph plus slider is a little more consistent with late tilt but”
He needs to find consistency with one, or both, of his breaking pitches. When he does that he truly will be a scary pitcher to face, but even as is he’s got the arsenal to make an impact. Suddenly with the potential to be a factor on Opening Day and over the entire season, his stock is rising. If your league hasn’t drafted yet he needs to be squarely on your radar as an option to fill out your roster.
Sources – Fangraphs, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baseball America
Make sure to check out all of our 2020 Fantasy Baseball preseason rankings: