The Rockies inked first baseman Ryan Howard to a minor league contract on Saturday, per a team announcement. Howard signed a minors deal with the Braves at the start of the 2017 season, but was released by the team in May after an 11-game stint in Triple-A Gwinnett.
The 37-year-old infielder has yet to find a landing place in the big leagues after capping a 13-year run with the Phillies in 2016. His final season in the majors yielded uneven results, pairing an impressive 25 home runs with a less impressive .196/.257/.453 batting line in 362 PA.
While he’s far-removed from the 50+ homer, .300+ average of his peak years in Philadelphia, Howard could still bring some veteran experience and modest power potential to the plate in Colorado. Should he secure a spot on the active roster come September, he figures to slot in behind starting first baseman Mark Reynolds, who’s already mashing .278/.363/.504 with 23 homers and an .867 OPS, and No. 3 infield prospect Ryan McMahon.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.