Wednesday, January 27, 2021
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Spencer Howard: X-Factor for the Phillies?

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Is Spencer Howard the X-factor that takes the Phillies to the next level? He is a power pitcher with 4 pitches. Hpward gets a lot of strikeouts and doesn’t give up many walks. He has thrown the ball 100MPH and regularly deals at about 97-98.

Nola: the Ace

The Phillies added Zach Wheeler to their rotation this offseason. Wheeler is an upgrade in that you know what you’re going to get. For his career, Wheeler is 44-38 with a 3.77 ERA. There isn’t any trickery in that statistic either.

In 2018, Zach had a career low ERA of 3.44. He’s pitched one complete game and averages 8.7 SO9. My point is although a good pitcher I don’t think as the #2 it makes the Phillies that much better. It is an improvement though.

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The Ace

Phillies ace Aaron Nola
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Aaron Nola dealing for Philly

Aaron Nola is the Phillies guy. The pinpoint finesse pitcher with the nasty curveball makes fans feel like the Phils got a chance everytime he takes the mound. After him its a crapshoot. Not to mention a bullpen that last year lived up to the worst expectations possible.

Most baseball fans understand that a bullpen that is bad one year can have a good year the next and vice versa.

So what makes the Phillies better, what takes them to the next level? What makes them a legitimate playoff team?

Talks of Kris Bryant

Throughout the offseason their have been talks of the Phillies acquiring Kris Bryant, the 3x All-star and 2016 N.L MVP from the Cubs.

Sure, the Phillies could use another bat but I don’t think it changes much alone. Given that atleast top pitching prospect Spencer Howard was involved in all iterations of this trade, I know I’m glad it didn’t happen.

Kris Bryant was invoved in trade talks to th Phillies. Most trades involved Spencer Howard
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Kris Bryant

What’s important for a title team

The day the Astros traded for Zach Greinke I made a statement on social media that led to many people replying that I and my take were ridicoulus and I didn’t know anything about baseball.

My statement was with the addition of Greinke, the only team in baseball that has a shot to defeat Houston in a playoff series is the Washington Nationals.

At the time The Nats weren’t in playoff position. I believe they were in 3rd place in the N.L East.

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Pitching wins championships most of the time. The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks are a testament to that.

The Phillies right now have a good lineup. Last season was a bit of an aberration in that the whole team went on an extended slump at the same time. One thing I think the Phillies can learn from the 2008 team is patience. Other than McCutcheon the Phils seemed to be in a rush at the plate swinging at to many pitches, early in the count.

Spencer Howard just may be the X-Factor The Philadelphia Phillies need to meet hopeful title aspirations beginning in 2020 and beyond.

Spencer Howard: How he got here

Howard showed up to Cal Poly throwing around 88 MPH. After 2 seasons of strength and technique training he was registering about 97 MPH on his fastball.

In his last season at Cal Poly, Howard went 8-1 with a 2.05 ERA, and a 10.0 SO9. The relatively unknown Howard was named a 2nd-team All-American for his efforts

Spencer Howard pitching at Cal Poly
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Spencer Howard pitching at Cal Poly

The Phillies select Spencer Howard with the 45th overall pick of the 2017 MLB draft

The Phillies selected the 6’3 210 lb. righty in the 2nd round of the 2017 MLB draft. The fireballer who routinely hits 97-98 MPH also comes equipped with a changeup that can drop to 83MPH and two breaking balls, a slider and a curveball.

In his first season in the minors, Howard was 1-1 in 9 starts with a 4.45 ERA at Williamsport, but averaged 12.7 SO9. His pitching would get better as he moved up to face stronger competition.

2018 Lakewood

Spencer Howard pitching for Lakewood
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Howard at Lakewood

Spencer Howard spent all of 2018 at Lakewood starting 23 games. He would finish the season 9-8 with a 3.78 ERA. 147K-40BB with a strikeout per 9 inning average of 11.8. That 11.8 would lead the league. Howard dominated the second half of the season.

The 2018 season wasn’t where Spencer’s big breakthrough would occur though. Not the regular season that is.

Playoff No-No

In a game with the right to play for the championship, Spencer Howard took the mound in September of 2018 for his Lakewood team.

When the game ended Howard walked one batter and struck out 9, reaching 100MPH for the first time, recording a 103 pitch No Hitter.

Below you can watch each pitch he threw from his first postseason masterpiece. It wouldn’t be his last. He was still hitting 95-96 in the late innings.

2019. This guy might be special

In 2019 Spencer Howard spent most of his time at Clearwater and Reading. In total he had a low 2.03 ERA. 94 K-16BB with an 11.9 SO9. In the Eastern League Playoffs for Reading, Howard went 7 innings giving up 2 hits and 2 wallks, striking out a career high 12 batters.

Spencer Howard with the Iron Claws
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Spencer Howard dealing

Bryce Harper

Harper just said if Howard isn’t up with The Phillies by game 6 of the 2020 season ‘something is wrong’.

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By waiting until game 6 off this season The Phillies get an extra year of service out of Howard.

A Nola-Howard combo could be difference

The Phillies are almost 20 games above .500 when Aaron Nola takes the mound. They are well below with their other starters. If Spencer Howard could join the club and make a difference it could be what Philly needs to solidify itself as a top contender in the N.L East.

Spencer Howard pitching for Reading
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You can never predict a pitcher coming to the big leagues to immediately make a difference. Being that Howard is a power pitcher makes it somewhat more likely. Throw in the shortened season and no opposition will really have an extended look at him.

Even if he doesn’t make a big mark on the Phillies this year, let’s get him up to the show and get him the experience he needs. He is what the Phillies need as a club. Let’s find out how good this kid can be. Lets find out if Spencer Howard is the X-Factor the Phillies have been waiting on.

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