J.P. Howell #74

J.P. Howell is a 28-year-old left-handed pitcher for the Tampa Bay Rays. Howell was traded by the Kansas City Royals to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in June 2006. Howell made a few starts in 2006 due to starting pitcher Scott Kazmir spending time on the DL and a few starts in 2007 whenever a starter was hurt, but in 2008 he made the opening day roster in the bullpen. He became the first lefty to lead the majors in relief since 1997 and he ranked 9th among A.L. relievers with a 2.22 ERA. Howell did not allow a run in 11 outings in September; he was very vital to the Rays first playoff appearance that season. In 2009, Howell continued his success; 69 appearances, 7 wins, and 17 saves. He became the primary closer after Troy Percival was sent to the DL in May. Even though the 2009 season wasn’t that great (The Rays failed to make the playoffs), Howell was very dependable. So dependable that I stupidly said “I would trust him with my life.” A second later, he gave up a homerun on August 7th in Seattle. Howell was never the same and had a shoulder-injury, missing all of the 2010 season. Though I may have jinxed him, it is also possible that his arm/shoulder was blown due to overuse in the bullpen in 2009.
Howell returned on May 20th and threw a scoreless inning, but he was not the same. In fact, he seemed to give up a homerun whenever he pitched. It was just plain ugly and sad whenever he pitched. In 2012, Howell made his first appearance against the New York Yankees on opening day. He pitched in the 6th inning, getting the two Yankees to pop out. He made another appearance against the Detroit Tigers, relieving Jeff Niemann. Howell was able to get all three batters out, due to one runner stretching a single. In Howell’s last appearance, which was against the Red Sox, he relieved Badenhop and allowed two doubles, a single, and walk, allowing 2 runs; he managed to get the last two players out. Howell looks much better this year and hopefully will be the pitcher he was in 2008 & 2009.


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