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.
The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.
Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).
John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.
What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.
The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?