Philip Humber, April’s Mr. Perfect, could soon be bullpen bound

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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 Pirates are, not surprisingly, leaning against trading Andrew McCutchen

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Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.

Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.

All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:

That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.

The Brewers are talking to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson

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The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.

Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.

Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.

The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.