The Phillies Need Some Dark Magic From Spencer Howard

MLB: AUG 09 Braves at Phillies
PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 09: Phillies SP Spencer Howard (48) pitches in the fifth inning during the second doubleheader game between the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies on August 09, 2020 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Phillies continue eagerly awaiting the emergence of touted pitching prospect Spencer Howard. Stop me if that sounds familiar. Phillies’ nation is all too familiar with the sentiment.

Well, the time is neigh, young man, because the Phillies yet again find themselves in the depths of pitching hell. Not quite as bad as last year, so we’ll call it Dante’s 5th Circle. Let’s discuss.

Chalk It Up To a Tough May For the Phillies

The month of May had little sympathy for our favorite Baton Rouge boy. Hopefully, we’ve seen the last of Aaron Nola’s struggles. On the flip side, the oft inconsistent Vince Velasquez has been relatively impressive but aren’t we all holding our breath for the regression?

Meanwhile, the offseason acquisitions of Matt Moore and Chase Anderson have left much to be desired. Moore’s pitched just 18.1 innings on his way to the 10-Day IL. Anderson’s 7.34 ERA has been relegated to the bullpen following just eight starts. God forbid a value free-agent signing works out.

Zack Wheeler can’t do this all himself. Sheesh.

Help must be on the way, right?

Enter (hopefully) Spencer Howard

Howard’s staring down the barrel at his first legitimate opportunity to break into the big leagues, and the Phillies need him to take advantage and stick around.

In Howard’s last start against Miami, he pushed into the fifth inning before quickly finding himself in trouble, but that’s not all bad. Manager Joe Girardi is telling us that he trusts Howard to get through five, despite the result.

The daunting roadblock for Howard will be his ability to push further into games (no kidding, how insightful). He’s got just about everything else.

With just two starts under his belt in 2021, Howard’s K/9 sits at 13.5, and he’s drawing a swinging strike on 13.9% of his pitches. This is what we’ve all been waiting for – another strikeout demon to pair with Nola.

Saturday will be Howard’s first actual test as the Phils welcome the much-maligned Washington Nationals, and it’s a fantastic opportunity to build some momentum as they kick off a brutal month of June.

Over the next three weeks, the Phillies go toe-to-toe with the Atlanta Braves, both those teams in New York, along with a trip to the West Coast to take on the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. If Howard’s not a positive addition to June, the Phils are sort of… Ph*cked.

So if the Phillies top prospect truly is destined to be the shining star we’ve been billed, now would be a great time to get started.