MLB: Phil Humber Continues to Pitch Like an Ace for the Chicago White Sox

Jon FromiSenior Analyst IJune 1, 2011

Phil Humber has made the most of his chance to start with the White Sox in 2011.
Phil Humber has made the most of his chance to start with the White Sox in 2011.Chris Trotman/Getty Images

The Chicago White Sox have a lot of high-priced hurlers in their starting rotation, but it's a guy making just over the league minimum who has been pitching like the ace of the staff.

A guy waived twice in the span of a month last winter.

A guy that started two games in limited action over six big league seasons.

A guy destined to be labeled a bust receiving what could be his last chance.

Phil Humber has started 10 games this season for the White Sox. Hopefully, he'll get to start some more because he's been terrific in 2011.

Humber tamed a hot-hitting Red Sox team Tuesday night to set Chicago up for a possible series sweep. Humber elected to move up in the White Sox rotation to give Gavin Floyd an extra day of rest. 

Floyd can only hope to match Humber's performance.

Humber allowed one earned run through seven innings in Chicago's 10-7 win in Boston in much the same way he has handled opponents this season.

He wasn't overpowering. He seldom hit 90-plus on the radar gun. He just changed speeds and hit his spots.

Humber, a former first-round pick turned journeyman, is with his fifth team since being picked third overall by the Mets in 2004. The former Rice pitcher had never thrown as many as six innings in any of his previous 26 appearances, of which two were starts.

He has gone at least six innings seven times this season and is 4-3 with a 3.06 in 2011.

Ironically, Humber's only career win as a starter prior to this season came last August in Kansas City, when he beat the White Sox 6-5 despite giving up five runs in 5.2 innings. Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper must have seen something he liked.

Humber was waived by the Royals and then Athletics this offseason, setting the stage for him to get a look with the White Sox. He made the club as the fifth starter with Jake Peavy out for the first six weeks of the season and has more than exceeded expectations.

Apparently, the A's didn't see anything special in Humber, waiving him a month after picking him up. That probably makes Humber's 4-3 win over Oakland sting a bit more.

Humber's emergence at age 28 is definitely one of baseball's feel-good stories so far in 2011. Will it last past next week?

He has more than earned the right, but Humber starting another game is far from a sure thing.

Chicago is toying with paring down the rotation down to a traditional five-man unit, and with Humber the new kid on the block, he may be moved to long relief. Unless manager Ozzie Guillen decides to put John Danks or Edwin Jackson into the bullpen, Humber may have had his last start for a while.

That would be a shame, because Humber has certainly made the most of his chance in Chicago. He deserves the shot at writing a few more chapters to his tale of redemption.