CHICAGO -- How does a guy go from relative unknown to staff ace in a matter of two months?
For Philip Humber, it was to add three pitches, require a former Cy Young winner to land on the disabled list and have success breed confidence. Or is it confidence breeding success?
“I don’t know if it’s the chicken before the egg or how it goes,” Humber said about his confidence/success juxtaposition. “But I came in to this year and I wanted to pitch like I didn’t have anything to lose. So far I’ve been able to maintain that attitude, that aggressive attitude to attack the strike zone.”
Humber is starting to see opponents multiple times now, and in the case of the Seattle Mariners it hasn’t made much of a difference. Humber delivered 7 2/3 solid innings Tuesday, giving up one run on five hits as the Sox recorded a 5-1 win. He was able to overcome three walks, matching a season high.
Both times Humber gave up his three walks it was to the Mariners. But that’s about all the success they had. Humber has given up a combined three runs over 14 2/3 innings to the Mariners and has a victory and a no-decision to show for it.
Over his last eight starts, seven of them have been quality. Humber is 3-1 in those outings with a 2.37 ERA, while opponents are batting .187 against him. Overall, Humber is 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA.
“Humber is a great [story],” manager Ozzie Guillen said. “This guy comes here looking for a job. The White Sox gave him the opportunity in spring training to make the ballclub and he did it. He came here, to be honest, we didn’t know what role he would be. Then Peavy goes down and he started pitching the way he’s been pitching.”
He was destined for the bullpen when Peavy returned from the disabled list in May, but was pitching so well that the White Sox went with an experimental six-man rotation. Humber helped hold that together too, proving that he is going so well that nothing can faze him.
“I’m just thankful to have a chance to contribute to the team and thankful for the opportunity they have given me,” Humber said. “I just go out and each day and try to earn it. That’s not just on game day. That’s in between and your preparation as far as in the weight room and mentally. I just try to show them that they made the right decision.”
The White Sox are clearly convinced they did the right thing, but excuse them if they don’t tell Humber. They’d like it if he continued to produce.
Next up for Humber is an outing Tuesday against his former team, the Minnesota Twins. They gave him 13 outings over two years and he became a free agent after the 2009 season. There's a good chance Minnesota probably isn't going to recognize the guy now.
“I’ve always had a good breaking ball, but in years past I’ve had to lean on it too much,” Humber said. “So now I have three other pitches that I can throw at any time in the count. For hitters when they can eliminate pitches, they take a lot better swings. I’m just trying to fill the strike zone up with multiple pitches and change speeds.”