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Report: Phillies top pitching prospect to debut Sunday

Spencer Howard will reportedly finally make his debut for the Philadelphia Phillies.

The team’s top pitching prospect was informed he will be starting in one game of Sunday’s doubleheader, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia’s scheduled game on Friday was postponed against the Atlanta Braves, forcing a doubleheader to be scheduled for Sunday.

Howard, 24, impressed in his six starts in Double-A last season, but overall only has 30.2 innings pitched above Single-A. He also impressed in the Arizona Fall League, where each MLB team’s top prospects compete in after the minor league season is over. Howard registered a 2.11 ERA in six starts and struck out 27 batters in just over 21 innings.

“If he is the guy we think he, and we do, he’s going to have a really nice future in Philadelphia,” Phillies pitching coach Bryan Price said before the season. “But at some point in time, he has to develop a workload. Last year was shortened by injury on the front end. Workload is important… I would really hope and expect to see him pitching here, if not on Opening Day. At some point in time, he really needs to work and I think he’s ready to compete at this level.”

Howard will join a rotation that features Aaron Nola, Zach Wheeler, Jake Arrieta, Zach Eflin, and Vince Velasquez. However, the team is scheduled to play 14 doubleheaders over the remaining 53 games, which could see Howard used more frequently than expected.

The team’s starting pitching has generally done well, pitching to a 3.72 ERA over the first seven games. However, the bullpen has struggled with a 7.89 ERA. Overall the Phillies rank #27 out of 30 MLB teams with a combined 5.27 ERA and are #28 with only three wins this season.

The Phillies face off with the Braves on Saturday night with first pitch scheduled for 6:05 p.m. ET.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at [email protected].

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