There’s always anticipation with new. New is fresh. New is hope. New is a clean slate.
Spencer Howard makes his first start in a Texas Rangers uniform today. A new pitcher. Making his first start with his new team. With a new lease on life. He’s the new guy.
If you’ve been on the moon and just arrived back, Howard is the key acquisition in the trade that sent Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy to the Phillies. Gibson, by the way, excelled in his first Phillies start, going 6.2 innings, allowing just two earned runs, in picking up the win, his first in the National League.
Howard is attempting to match that feat. The six-foot three-inch, twenty-five-year-old, right-hander was the Phillies’ second round selection in the 2017 draft. By 2019, he was the Phillies top prospect.
Things haven’t gone so well for Howard once he put on a big league uniform, though. He got six starts in 2020, went 1-2 with a 5.92 ERA. Then, in eleven 2021 games, including seven starts, he’s 0-2 with a 5.72 ERA.
He brings that to a Rangers rotation in its usual state of disarray, trying to stop a bubbling two-game losing streak. But, more than that, he’s trying to re-establish the shine he had on him in the Phillies system.
According to NBC Sports’ Adam Hermann, Howard “often flashed great stuff in early innings but struggled with maintaining velocity throughout his starts, and was bandied back and forth between the bullpen, a starting role, and work in the minors.” What hasn’t been determined yet is if he is truly a starter, or better suited in long relief.
Sometimes a player just needs a change of scenery. Sometimes he just needs new direction. Howard has all that. And a team. A new city. A new league. And a slot in the rotation.
He is a work in progress. But the upside is there. Let’s hope the Rangers pitching coaches can find it.
Texas is counting on Howard to be a fixture in the rotation for the next few years. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a young, controllable, non-trade-bait pitcher they could actually count on?
The answer is yes.
Welcome to the Rangers Spencer Howard.