Humber's perfect moment unlikely to mark emergence of an ace
You could have listed 100 names of the pitchers most likely to pitch a perfect game this season. Phil Humber's name wouldn't have been on it.
In fact, make a list of the 100 pitchers who can throw the next no-hitter. Humber's name shouldn't be on that list either.
There are 150 regular starting pitchers in baseball and Humber might be closer to the bottom third of those intriguing enough to own in fantasy.
While his perfect Saturday makes Humber one of the most-added players right now, he still should be waiver-wire fodder. Yes, he is a lot better than the Mets (who have never had a no-hitter in their franchise history, coincidentally) or Twins thought -- two teams that gave up on him -- but he is one of those arms you shuffle in and out of your lineup as needed.
Why isn't Humber trustworthy week in and week out for the long term? Well, for the same reasons he wasn't in SI.com's top 125 rankings in the preseason or wasn't in the top 125 on MockDraftCentral.com's average draft positions. Even after his perfect game and as hot as this start has been for him, he is still just 45th in scoring in a standard head-to-head points league that awards three points per inning.
Humber was once an elite prospect, an early first-round pick of the Mets, but he hasn't been able to sustain his stuff for extended periods of time. A year ago, his first semi-full season in the majors at the advanced age of 28, he was a solid 8-5 with a 3.10 at the All-Star break only to bust out the other way in the second half (1-4, 5.01). He posted an ERA of 6.00 in July and 5.27 in August. His career ERA in the second half (4.82) is over a run and a half higher than his first half.
We should expect a similar regression this season, particularly after the smashing success he was in fantasy Week 3.
This should be reminded because the numbers in small sample sizes tend to distort things early on in fantasy. It can lead to fantasy owners making mistakes in trades or add-drops.
Don't be a knee-jerk.
Sure, Humber is worth a look-see coming off a perfect game. But you shouldn't add him at the expense of an arm Humber was once traded for: Johan Santana. Or even, gasp, struggling Twins starter Francisco Liriano.
Santana is coming off shoulder surgery, not to mention one of the worst starts of his once-illustrious career, and he has pitched just 11 1/3 innings through three starts. That is just a little over a handful more outs than Humber recorded consecutively in one game.
Liriano, meanwhile, easily is the worst pitcher in all of fantasy right now, starter or reliever. There have been 157 pitchers who have made a start thus far this season -- with a few more to come, namely Jarrod Parker of the A's on Wednesday (heck, pick him up over Humber, too!). Liriano is 157th, dead last, in standard scoring among those starters.
"It doesn't look like he's pitching with too much confidence right now," manager Ron Gardenhire told the
Liriano can still get things figured out. If you don't have to start him in your active lineup right now, he is probably worth owning more than Humber, whose ceiling puts him ... well, merely worth owning in fantasy right now.
Liriano or Santana won't be pitching any no-hitters or perfect games this season. They are long shots to even finish off a complete game, shutout or not, at any point this season.
But, Humber's perfecto is a reminder just how skewed things can look in small sample sizes out of the gate. Week 4 of the fantasy season is still real, real early.