Nick Pivetta started for the red team in Thursday night’s Philadelphia Phillies instrasquad scrimmage. As he looks to keep pace with Vince Velasquez in the battle for the fifth starter job, the 27-year-old pitched quite well. Though he walked four batters across four innings, Pivetta didn’t allow a single hit and held the blue Phillies scoreless.
Of course, it was the arm that came into relieve Pivetta that everyone was waiting to see.
Spencer Howard, who was selected as the No. 1 prospect in the organization in Phillies Nation‘s February 2020 rankings, came in to pitch three innings after Pivetta. Here are some in-game observations on Howard, along with Joe Girardi’s thoughts after the scrimmage wrapped up:
Bottom Of Fifth
- Kyle Garlick grounds out to Alec Bohm, who slides to his left and throws him out
- Blew Deivi Grullon away on three pitches
- Nick Martini grounds out to first base
Bottom Of Sixth
- After working a 3-2 count, Howard got Adam Haseley to fly out to left field, where Jay Bruce made the catch.
- Following the flyout from Haseley, Howard struck Scott Kingery out.
- Rhys Hoskins managed to draw a two-out walk, but not before Howard made him look, well, like this with his curveball:
- Andrew Knapp struck out looking to end the inning.
Bottom Of Seventh
- Logan Forsythe drew a walk after working a full count to start the home half of the seventh inning.
- Neil Walker flew out to right-center field, just shy of the warning track.
- Howard got into another 3-2 count with Kyle Garlick, who pushed a ball into the right-field corner for a double.
- After an otherwise poor at-bat, Deivi Grullon flew out to center field, which allowed Forsythe to tag from third base and score.
- Howard hit Nick Martini on the foot to end the inning.
After the appearance, Girardi seemed impressed with Howard, though he acknowledged that the 23-year-old did appear to tire in his final inning of work.
“He threw the ball good,” Girardi said of Howard following the game. “I thought he fatigued a little at the end, but I think we saw some electric stuff the first couple innings.”
Zach Eflin will pitch two simulated innings on Saturday, before the Phillies are scheduled to head to Washington for a scrimmage. If Eflin appears to be fully recovered from back spasms, he, Pivetta and Velasquez will be competing for the final two rotation spots. Things could change, especially once Zack Wheeler’s wife gives birth to their child, but is there a scenario where Howard is used in the bullpen at some point in 2020 if there isn’t a rotation spot doesn’t present itself?
“Oh, I think everything is a possibility,” Girardi responded when asked about using Howard out of the bullpen. “We’re going to have to evaluate as we’re going along in the season, but I think everything is a possibility.
“I think it’s important that he gets innings, somewhere. This kid needs to pitch. And we like what we saw today, I can’t tell you exactly what’s going to happen on the 24th, but we liked what we saw.”
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