Phil Humber could lose spot in Astros rotation

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Phil Humber the 21st perfect game in baseball history on April 21 against the Seattle Mariners last year, and it’s been all downhill ever since. The once-prized prospect in the New York Mets system has logged a 7.79 ERA since the perfecto over 121.1 innings. At 8.82, his 2013 ERA is the worst in the Majors, even outpacing the ineffective, injured Roy Halladay, who today went on the disabled list with an 8.65 ERA.

Humber’s poor performance over seven starts (all losses) has put his rotation spot in jeopardy. Via MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart:

Luhnow acknowledged that the club also talked about the status of struggling starting pitcher Philip Humber, who has a 16.20 ERA in his last four starts. The Astros have already bumped Brad Peacock and Erik Bedard from the rotation since the start of the season, and Humber’s status remains unclear.

“That’s really a decision Bo needs to make, and I’m sure he’ll make it at the appropriate time,” Luhnow said. “We believe Humber is a Major League pitcher and can add value to our team. For now, no decision has been made about any different roles on the pitching side at this point.”

Now 30 years old, Humber is running out of time and opportunities to prove himself. His last sustained run of pitching came in 2011 with the White Sox, when he finished with a 3.75 ERA in 163 innings.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.