The Phillies will start Spencer Howard in Monday’s series opener against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park.
“We liked what he did, we like some of the improvements he’s made so we’ll give him a chance to do it again,” manager Joe Girardi said Saturday as the Phils prepared for the third of four games against the Braves.
Howard, the Phils' highly-touted 25-year-old right-hander, had a brief but impressive start at Yankee Stadium Wednesday. On short rest, he pitched three scoreless innings with a pair of K’s and didn’t experience the drop-off in fastball velocity that has been a constant in his 12 starts as a major-leaguer. It may not have been a major step in the right direction, but it was a step nonetheless.
“I think he’s maintained his stuff better and he’s used his offspeed more, his slider,” Girardi said. “His changeup, we feel like has better velocity on it now. We need him to continue to mix his pitches and use his slider, changeup and curveball. I thought he did a pretty good job the other day.”
Howard threw eight sliders against the Yankees and the pitch averaged 88.6 mph. Previously this season, it had averaged 81.5.
“He has the slower curveball. The harder slider is harder to pick up,” Girardi said. “It’s more deceptive when it has movement and it’s at a higher velocity.”
Howard’s season-high is 68 pitches but Girardi said he’d be comfortable pushing him deeper if things are going well.
“We kind of took the gloves off in a sense," Girardi said, "because we’re at a point where we don’t need to conserve innings anymore.”
Veteran Chase Anderson was another option to start Monday. He has been on the injured list since the first week of June and began a minor-league rehab assignment on the final day of the month. There is a limit of 30 days a team can keep a pitcher on a rehab assignment and those 30 days will be up on July 30.
At that time, the Phillies could either recall Anderson as a long reliever/spot starter, or designate him for assignment. He is signed to a one-year, $4 million contract.
“We’ll make a decision pretty quickly with what we’re going to do with Chase,” Girardi said.
- The Phillies placed outfielder Adam Haseley on the COVID-related injured list. Haseley, who initially left the organization in mid-April for personal reasons, had been getting ABs in the Florida Gulf Coast League.
- The Phillies claimed right-handed pitcher Tyler Phillips off waivers from the Rangers. Phillips, 23, split his time this season between Double A and Triple A in the Rangers’ system and had a 6.75 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 19 walks in 25⅓ innings.