Chicago White Sox: Philip Humber Belongs in the Starting Rotation If Healthy

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Chicago White Sox: Philip Humber Belongs in the Starting Rotation If Healthy
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Philip Humber is eyeing a return to the White Sox. Chicago should insert him back into the starting rotation.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Philip Humber is nearing a return to the team. When that day arrives, it should be in the role of the fifth starter.

Humber has been on the disabled list retroactive to June 17 with a right elbow flexor strain. He has looked increasingly better in each of his three rehab starts. In his most recent outing for Double-A Birmingham, Humber tossed six innings, giving up just one run and two hits.

If the White Sox feel that Humber is ready to pitch big-league innings, his next appearance should be in Boston on Tuesday. Chicago could give rookie Dylan Axelrod another start, but only if they feel that Humber requires another rehab outing.

If and when Humber is ready, he should be in the White Sox rotation.

South Side skipper Robin Ventura has his rotation set this weekend in Kansas City. Jose Quintana starts the opener Friday night. All-Stars Jake Peavy and Chris Sale go on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Gavin Floyd hopes to continue his run of solid outings on Monday in Boston as the White Sox open a four-game series with the Red Sox. Humber would then throw July 17.

If the team wants to see Humber make another minor league start, his projected return would come July 22 as the White Sox wrap up their 10-game road trip in Detroit. Either way, Humber's place for now should be in the rotation.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
The White Sox need to find out if Humber's elbow can handle the fifth starter's workload before the trade deadline.

Waiting for John Danks to be ready to pitch is speculation at this stage of his recovery. Axelrod was wasn't impressive in his last start before the All-Star break, though to be fair it did come on three days rest.

Chicago needs to evaluate Humber as a starter before any trade deadline moves can be considered. If he appears to be able to hold down the fifth spot in the rotation, it could dictate what Kenny Williams will be shopping for as the deadline approaches.

Humber told David Heck of MLB.com that he feels ready to rejoin the team:

My fastball command was probably as good as it's been all year. I threw a lot of strikes and a lot of well-located fastballs. My off-speed got better as the game went on. I'd have to say I'm very pleased with how it went.

I'm always hoping that the next step will be back in the big leagues. I'm sure that's something that will be evaluated after the higher-ups talk about it. Hopefully, I can get back out there and pitch for the White Sox and help the team win. As of right now, we're playing really good baseball. We're in first place and it's something that you really want to be a part of.

If he's ready, Humber should be back at the end of the rotation.

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