Texas Rangers right-hander Spencer Howard hopes to make a strong impression when he makes his team debut in the finale of a four-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.
The Rangers acquired Howard and two prospects from the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday in exchange for All-Star right-hander Kyle Gibson and veteran closer Ian Kennedy.
“It’s really good for me to be here,” Howard said shortly after the trade. “You know, get a fresh start and, hopefully, get to contribute.”
Howard (0-2, 5.72 ERA) was a second-round pick of the Phillies in the 2017 MLB Draft, and the No. 1 prospect in Philadelphia’s organization at the start of the season, according to MLB Pipeline.
He got a taste of the majors with the Phillies last season and was expected to take on a bigger role in 2021, but mostly spun his wheels in his 11 appearances, including seven starts.
The Rangers have always liked what they’ve seen in Howard, despite the slow start to his career.
“He’s hit a little bit of a speed bump in the big leagues, and he’s working through that,” said Jon Daniels, president of baseball operations for the Rangers. “If he was having immediate success, he probably wouldn’t have been available.”
The Rangers will be up against veteran right-hander Dylan Bundy, who’s trying to salvage his season and possibly his career.
Bundy (1-8, 6.66 ERA) began the season as one of the main starters for the Angels, but was demoted to the bullpen after a 1-7 start.
Bundy had just four appearances in four weeks out of the bullpen before making another start on July 29 against the visiting Oakland Athletics.
He went 4 1/3 innings and gave up just two hits, but was stung by four walks and one hit batter. Bundy was ultimately responsible for three runs in the 4-0 loss.
Even more challenging, several Rangers have hit well against Bundy in their careers.
Brock Holt, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Adolis Garcia and Nathaniel Lowe are a combined 22 for 40 off Bundy.
Bundy has pitched well against Texas overall in his career, however. He is 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 10 appearances (eight starts).
Bundy struggled in his only appearance against Texas this season, allowing five runs and seven hits in five innings of a 6-4 loss in Anaheim on April 19.
One player who’s stepped up for the Angels recently is third baseman Jack Mayfield.
Mayfield has homered in the past two games, helping the Angels to much-needed back-to-back wins.
He’s expected to continue getting regular playing time after the Angels announced on Wednesday that Anthony Rendon would undergo season-ending hip surgery.
“Any way to help the team is what I’m trying to do,” he said.
Mayfield was purchased from the Atlanta Braves in February, released by Los Angeles and claimed by the Seattle Mariners in April, then released and claimed by the Angels again on June 13.
“Every day’s a new day,” Mayfield said. “That’s my mentality and it’s always been, even in the minor leagues. I keep that same mentality and I don’t look toward the future too much, just enjoying the day as they go. We’re having fun right now as a squad.”
–Field Level Media