Philip Humber’s rotation spot will likely be up for grabs with one more bad outing.
After the right-hander gave up six runs — five earned — and three homers in 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Astros on Sunday, manager Robin Ventura said that Humber would make one more start, but declined to promise him anything after that.
It’s the fifth time in nine starts since his perfect game against the Mariners on April 21 that Humber has allowed at least five runs. He’s now 2-4 with a 5.93 ERA in 11 starts for the season.
It’s the home run ball that has served as Humber’s doom. He’s allowed 12 of them in 48 innings since the no-no. During his breakthrough 2011 season, he gave up a total of 14 homers in 163 innings. Humber fanned nine batters today, giving him 59 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings on the season, a nice step forward from 2011. So, if he can get the homers under control, his ERA could yet come down.
Still, the White Sox appear to be running out of patience. John Danks will make a rehab start Tuesday and could rejoin the rotation after that. Expectations were that Jose Quintana would be sent down to make room for Danks, but the team could keep him around and use Humber in middle relief instead.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.