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2022 in review: Spencer Howard

A very bad year for a pitcher we had high hopes for

Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

With the 2022 regular season over, it is that time where we go back and take a look at the players who appeared for the Texas Rangers this past season.

Today, we look at pitcher Spencer Howard.

During his time in the big leagues in 2022, Spencer Howard walked 7.9% of the batters he faced, compared to 8.2% for MLB as a whole. So Spencer Howard was slightly better than average in 2022 when it came to not walking batters.

That is the lone positive I can point to in Howard’s 2022 performance. It was a disaster of a year, a season where the former top 50 prospect took a big step backwards, one that leads one to wonder if he can ever be an effective major league pitcher in any role.

Howard made eight starts and two relief appearances for the Rangers, but logged only 37 innings. Handed a spot in the Opening Day rotation, he had a terrible first outing, went on the injured list with a blister, came back and pitched poorly in two outings where he came in after an opener, and was promptly banished to Round Rock.

Brought back in early July, he had an okay stretch of starts, culminating in a five inning, five K, 0 walk, 0 run start against the Anaheim Angels, leading to misguided hope and optimism that maybe he had turned things around. He promptly gave up six runs in each of his next two outings and landed on the injured list, after which he was sent back to the Express for good.

Howard ended the year with a 7.41 ERA, which is terrible — but also an very tiny improvement over 2021, when he had a 7.43 ERA between Texas and Philadelphia. If you want to look at the bright side, Howard had a FIP of “just” 6.83, along with a 5.53 xERA, all of which is terrible, just not quite as terrible as his raw ERA would indicate.

Howard struck out just 18% of the batters he faced, which is below average. He allowed 2.87 home runs per nine innings, which is extremely terrible. The 12 home runs Howard allowed in 2022 was the fourth most among Rangers pitchers — quite an accomplishment, given how few innings he pitched.

Howard earned his July promotion with a string of solid outings for the Express in May and June, a stretch where he put up a 3.69 ERA over 10 starts, culminating in 7 shutout innings against Las Vegas where he struck out 11 while allowing just one walk and one hit. Unfortunately, he couldn’t even get AAA hitters out when he went back to Round Rock to end the season, closing out the year by allowing 14 runs in 12.2 IP over four outings for the Express.

Howard is still hanging around on the 40 man roster for the time being, but he’s become something of the forgotten pitcher, someone we are trying to ignore at this point. He will presumably head to Round Rock for 2023, when he is on his final option, and do something to show he warrants a role on a major league staff at some point in the near future. At this point, it seems more likely he is designated for assignment at some point this summer when a 40 man roster spot is needed.


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