Welcome my friend to the show that never ends. I’m talking to you Mr. Philip Humber. The soap opera that we’d call the Mets 2007 season is set to get a new cast member, auditioning for a starring role perhaps as soon as next season.
"He’s going to get the ball and help us win a ballgame," explained manager Willie Randolph prior to Sunday’s game in Florida.
Seven games remain, amounting to be the most vital week the organization has been forced to endure in well over two season, There will be the accustomed nail biting sessions while barking at the television and countless prayers to the big man upstairs as Enter Sandman roars through the confines of Shea. Nervous? Somewhat, and rightfully so, but excited? If an opportunity to ensure a date to dance in October doesn’t get the juices flowing, than the reasons for which you are a fan need to be re-evaluated.
Setting aside for just a moment the obvious thrill of a tight division race, I cannot help but be ecstatic that Humber has finally been awarded the ball. It comes at gut check time in the midst of the most crucial stretch of the season. By lacing up a pair of Nike’s and toeing the rubber on Wednesday evening, he has an evident chance to prove something.
Traditional September starts for rookie pitchers don’t typically come at such imperative moments, making Humber’s debut all the more appealing. There is undoubtedly added pressure on the kid, but the start will tell fans a lot of things. Most significant of them being if he is impressive, and goes out and has a stellar outing, it would make it all the more telling because of the circumstances he was under.
When questioned about throwing Humber into such a stressful situation, general manager Omar Minaya said "I asked him, ‘Have you pitched in the College World Series? Have you pitched in a big game? Did you win? Well, do the same thing on Wednesday.’"
Since heading north on September first for roster expansion, Humber has had virtually no work to speak of, logging a mere three innings of work in two relief appearances. With such an insignificant body of work, nobody quite knows what he maybe capable of accomplishing. We already are aware what Dave Williams can do, and frankly it isn’t a whole lot to write home about. Humber however, is a mystery but with much promise and a glaring upside.
“Now I’ve got my chance, I was hoping for it” said Humber, who was the third overall player selected in the 2004 amateur draft out of Rice.
The 24-year old right hander spent the season in AAA New Orleans where he was 11-9 with a 4.27 ERA. Not spectacular by any stretch, but he got noticeably stronger as the season grew older, nearly throwing a No-hitter in his second to last start for the Zephyrs.
Though I will be scoreboard watching in the seventh inning and crossing my fingers while wearing my lucky Mets ball cap, I will be motivated to clinch the division, but more so fascinated to get a slight taste of the future during a heated race. Welcome to the show indeed.