But let’s be careful rushing to judgment before declaring him a bust on the spot or wanting to rescind the trade with the Phillies that brought him here in exchange for Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy, as well as prospect Hans Crouse.
Upon further examination, this Texas Rangers debut was pretty solid for Howard, once the top pitching prospect in the Philadelphia organization. We’ll need to give the 25-year-old a chance to establish himself in Arlington and he’ll have plenty of chances to do so.
For now, though, here are three takeaways from the performance.
Spencer Howard’s stuff is big-league caliber
The Texas Rangers are clearly betting on a pitcher with sky-high potential
That’s the reason the organization sought him out in that Phillies trade, right?
Howard’s stuff looked electric early in the game, striking out three batters over the first two innings, including one of cheat code Shohei Ohtani.
His fastball sat consistently in the mid-90s, pairing it with a changeup and a cutter both with good movement. Right out of the gate in Texas, it was easy to see what made Howard such a commodity for the team.
That’s got to make Rangers fans excited for what’s to come with the kid.
Defense betrayed Howard
Spencer Howard thought he was going to get better fielding with the Texas Rangers
Most of the season, this team’s defense has been pretty great, with above average defenders patrolling multiple positions (Adolis Garcia in CF and IKF at SS, for example).
Unfortuantely for Spencer Howard, that lauded defense betrayed him today as the game unraveled in the third inning before the 25-year-old had a chance to escape.
Nathaniel Lowe, playing first base on Thursday, botched a throw back to Howard who was covering the open base on the play.
The play was scored a hit and an error, but it really should’ve been just an error that would’ve saved an earned run off the ledger of Howard.
We’re not saying Howard would’ve definitely stayed in the game longer had Lowe done his job, but we’d like to think so. Who really knows what would’ve happened in that case, but what did happen after Lowe’s error was ugly.
Length and command of pitches will come with time
The best approach is patience with Spencer Howard, which the Texas Rangers will employ
Anyone looking for Spencer Howard to toss five or six innings every time out at this stage of the game is dreaming too big for now.
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Howard only went 2.1 innings in Thursday’s start, allowing three runs (at least one of which wasn’t his fault) and striking out three while walking two.
It’s not a great stat line at first glance, but the 25-year-old showed bursts of promise through the first two innings. Enough that fans should be willing to ride this out for however long his development takes.
When you make Shohei Ohtani look as silly as Howard did in that first inning, in addition to three punch-outs overall, you definitely see where the potential lies for the former top pitching prospect to blossom into a star.
The length in games and the command of his pitches will come with time and more chances. The best practice is to get real reps. And even if his starts are abbreviated for now, that doesn’t take away from the promise he possesses.
It looks like the Texas Rangers got a good one in Howard. Let’s just allow time and development to run their course.