The Phillies had been coy about naming a starting pitcher for Friday's series opener against the New York Mets, but one of Joe Girardi's bullpen decisions Thursday made it clear that the nod Friday will go to Spencer Howard.
Girardi turned to Vince Velasquez in relief in the sixth inning Thursday against the Orioles. Previously, Girardi had not said whether Velasquez or Howard would start against the Mets, noting that both would be prepared to pitch Friday and the Phillies could piggyback them.
But with Velasquez appearing in relief Thursday, he won't be starting Friday. Instead, Howard will get his second major-league start ... going up against Mets ace Jacob deGrom.
Howard lasted 4⅔ innings, allowed four runs and struck out four in his debut against the Braves this past Sunday. Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. did the lion's share of the damage against Howard, going 5 for 6 with two home runs and a triple.
Howard did not feel that he had his best stuff in that first start. He did not miss a bat among the 41 fastballs he threw, but all three of his offspeed pitches (slider, curveball, changeup) impressed at times.
Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler will follow Howard in the Mets series.