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.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.