Rangers starter Spencer Howard gave up six runs in a little more than one inning as the Rangers lost 15-1 to Houston.

The Rangers have featured some promising young starters of late. A.J. Alexy. Glenn Otto. Taylor Hearn.

Spencer Howard is not one of them.

The right-handed Howard was the top prospect in the Phillies system. Then he was called up to the major leagues. Since then he has gone from prospect to problem.

Howard got six starts in 2020. He went 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA and an even uglier 1.644 WHIP. He was able to go five innings once. In half of his starts he didn’t even make it through the fourth inning. 

He made seven starts with the Phillies this season. He was 0-2 with a bloated 5.72 ERA. The Phillies lost their patience with him and made him available at the trade deadline. The Rangers bit. They traded Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy for Howard. They also received two other minor leaguers. They felt Howard just needed a change of scenery. 

Be careful what you ask for. In six Rangers starts, he’s given up five or more earned runs three times. Only once has he gotten through three innings. He brought a 7.71 ERA as a Ranger into last night’s game. And it went downhill from there. When he walked off the mound in the second, having gotten only four total outs, his ERA as a Rangers starter had ballooned to 11.81.

Howard will get a lot of rope since he was the centerpiece of a major trade. But he has been as frustrating and ineffective with the Rangers as he was with the Phillies. In fact, he’s been worse.

As we look at arms coming up the system and all the optimism that goes with it, Spencer Howard is a cautionary tale about overvaluing pitchers.