Imagine that the Chicago Cubs had a pitcher who in five starts this season was sporting a 1.02 ERA, now let’s say this same pitcher has only given up four earned runs in five starts, and has averaged seven innings pitched in each of his starts. You would think that the Cubs have found a diamond in the rough, the likes of a healthy Mark Prior in 2003, who can be eventually the ace of the team for years to come.
The reality is that the Cubs does have a pitcher with the stats that I mentioned above, except that he’s not a young 20 something phenom, but a 35 year old season veteran, who pitches seldom make it over 90 mph. The mid-thirties pitcher is able to keep hitters off balance with a funky delivery, the ability to change speeds, and guile. Now you have to be asking yourself who is this guy, and why haven’t I heard of him before?
But you have, his name is Ryan Dempster, and the reason that he hasn’t been a fixture on ESPN highlights is because of a lack of run support, and even when Dempster actually leaves with a lead, the Cubs’ bullpen always seems to implode in the late innings, turning what could be a few more wins on the Cubs’ overall record into losses- all losses. The Cubs as a team are winless (0-5) in all of Dempster’s starts, and all Dempster has to show for it is a 0-1 overall won-lost record. Yesterday was no different versus the Atlanta Braves, Dempster pitched seven innings and left the game tied at one apiece, only to see the Cubs bullpen give up two runs in the very next inning, and the Cubs’ bats were nowhere to be found.
On the bright side, Dempster, who is in his final season of a four year $52 million dollar contract, has won at least 10 games in each of his last five seasons. Dempster, who does incredibly accurate voice impersonations of Harry Caray and Tim Kurkjian works like a fine wine, he gets better with age.