Ryan Howard is on the comeback trail

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Laugh all you want about the $105 million the Phillies still owe Ryan Howard. And laugh all you want about the .219/.295/.423 slash line the first baseman posted at the age of 32 last season in his return from a torn Achilles. In nine spring training games, Howard is looking more and more like the former MVP who terrorized pitchers across the league.

In 24 spring at-bats, Howard has slugged three homers, tied for the second-most among contestants in both the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. Two of those homers have come against name brand pitchers in Craig Kimbrel and R.A. Dickey, both hit to left-center. The third, his most recent, was a tape-measure shot to right against Blue Jays lefty Brett Cecil. Along with the homers, Howard has hit three doubles and driven in ten runs.

Howard has traditionally been a high achiever in spring training. His OPS starting in 2011 — he did not participate in spring training last year — and working backwards to 2006 has been .904, .896, 1.180, 1.017, .710, and 1.133. Along with the fact that spring training stats are notoriously poor barometers by which to predict regular season success, one should take his performance in 24 at-bats thus far with a giant grain of salt. Still, the city of Philadelphia would love to see their star slugger back in form, reclaiming his place in the middle of the Phillies’ lineup.

Wade Miley will start NLCS Game 5 for Brewers

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The Brewers haven’t yet decided what route to go for Game 4 of the NLCS, but Wade Miley will start Game 5, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Miley will be on three days’ rest after starting Game 2 on Saturday.

Miley, 31, has yet to give up a run this postseason. He made his postseason debut in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Rockies, hurling 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He then went 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dodgers.

Jhoulys Chacín is starting tonight’s Game 3. It seems likely the Brewers will go with an “opener” in Game 4. Who that will be likely depends on which pitchers are used tonight.