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Sam Howard’s limited playing time in 2018 showed Rockies’ depth

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Howard only pitched one inning prior to September

You’re reading the 2018 edition of Ranking the Rockies, where we take a look back at the season had by every player to play for the Rockies in 2018. The purpose of this list is to provide a snapshot of the player in context. The “Ranking” is an organizing principle that’s drawn from Baseball Reference’s WAR (rWAR). It’s not something the staff debated. We’ll begin with the player with the least amount of rWAR and end up with the player with the most.

★ ★ ★

No. 23, Sam Howard (0.1 rWAR)

Despite being called up twice before September, Howard appeared in just one game and threw one inning before rosters expanded. During his third trip to the Rockies, and in the middle of a pennant race, Howard got into three more games and threw three more innings. He didn’t play enough to help or hurt the Rockies in 2018.

Looking forward, Howard is still a player who can help the team. He’s a three-pitch lefty starter who could be a serviceable fourth or fifth starter. Or, he could be a Chris Rusin-like swingman out of the bullpen. That was the book on Howard prior to 2018, and it remains the same, despite an ugly 5.16 ERA at Triple-A in 2018.

The Rockies currently have a lot of starting pitchers ahead of Howard on the depth chart. At best, he’s probably the Rockies’ number eight guy. His clearer path is to the bullpen, or as a trade chip. But that doesn’t mean Howard won’t get his fair share of starts for the Rockies in the near future. It just means that if he does, something probably went wrong with more than one of the pitchers in front of him.

That’s a positive for the Rockies, even if it isn’t one for Howard’s playing time prospects. There was a time not too long ago where a guy like Howard would be somewhere between the fourth and sixth starter on the depth chart. He’s a solid depth option that the Rockies simply didn’t need to turn to in 2018, and unless he takes a step forward as a 26-year-old next spring, 2019 will probably look much the same.