Philip Humber was designated for assignment (DFA) after a costly relief performance last night that cost the Astros the lead and ultimately the game--in addition to pushing his ERA above 9. This shouldn't be a surprise; few pitchers with an ERA over 9 at this stage of the season keep their jobs on a major league roster. With a 9.59 ERA, Humber has the highest ERA among MLB pitchers with 30 or more innings.
Edgar Gonzalez, who was DFA'd by the Astros in April after starting the season on the team's roster, was re-signed by the Astros and takes Humber's roster slot. He will be in the Astros' bullpen for this afternoon's game against the Rangers. Gonzalez who was claimed by the Toronto Blue Jays after the Astros' DFA, was subsequently DFA'd by the Blue Jays and assigned to Toronto's AAA team. Gonzalez later was called up to the majors by the Jays, and was subsequently released after three appearances for Toronto.
Jose Ortiz with chron.com said that Humber probably knew what was coming after his performance last night:
After giving up five runs over two-thirds of an inning Saturday night, Philip Humber sounded like a man who knew the end was near. All the signs were there, as I told Astros broadcaster Bill Brown immediately after Humber’s postgame media session.
“It’s hard, but there’s a lot worse things than struggling on a baseball field,” he said. “I feel bad as far the team goes. I want to do the best I can for the team."
Looking at pitch f/x from last night, Humber's velocity appears to have returned to the 91 mph range that he normally pitched in previous seasons. However, his command suffered, and the curve ball was not very effective.
The Astros signed Gonzalez out of the Mexican League last year and gave him 6 starts in the Astros' rotation at the end of the season. Although his 5.04 ERA was not anything to write home about, he did have his moments when he pitched well, and he appeared to be poised in tough situations. Gonzalez also pitched well in spring training and seemed to have pitched his way into the swing man role. However, a roster crunch led to the DFA, and the Astros were unable to sneak him back to Oklahoma City.
It's not surprising that the Astros re-signed Gonzalez. Given Humber's ERA, one can hardly expect him to be worse. But temper your expectations with the knowledge that Gonzalez has not pitched particularly well this year. He had a 5.49 ERA in 19 innings with Buffalo, and he has a 7.88 ERA in only 8 innings with Toronto. Gonzalez had two relief appearances against Detroit and one relief appearance against Tampa Bay. Most of the damage occurred in a 4.2 inning stint against the Rays, giving up 5 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 2 HRs, and a HBP. But this is a small sample size and may not signify much about the future. However, it does highlight the volatility of relief pitching in the majors.