Ryan Dempster pitched a complete game, 5-hit shutout over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field. He struck out 6 and walked just 2, throwing 120 pitches to notch his 1st shutout since July 2001. After a 17 win season in 2008, Dempster has disappointed in 2009. So where did the 2008 Dempster go? Probably down the drain like the rest of the Cubs. Early on, Dempster struggled with control issues and a lack of run support. In all but 3 of his 1st 17 starts, Dempster walked at least 2 batters in the game. In 9 of the 17 starts, he walked at least 3 batters in the game, with a season high 6 walks in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox on June 17th.
Throw in a July DL stint because of a fluke broken toe during a “Cubby Occurrence Celebration”, and it has been a long frustrating season for Dempster. Of late, Demspter has regained the control that made him so effective in 2008. In his last 11 starts, he has walked 3 batters in a game only once. In 6 of those starts he has walked one batter or less. Better control means more innings pitched – he has pitched at least 7 innings in all but 2 of those 11 starts, and in those 2 starts, he survived through 6 innings. That helps him have a better chance of qualifying for wins, and it helps his bullpen remain fresh through a long MLB season.
Right now, Dempster is 11-8 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. He has 162 K’s against 64 walks. Credit Dempster for staying on course despite the frustrations he, the Cubs and Cubs fans have been feeling all season long.
Dempster will make his final start of 2009 against the Diamondbacks on Sunday at Wrigley Field. Will 12 wins be in the cards? Hopefully – - because Dempster is confident there will be a carryover into the 2010 MLB schedule – “It’s unfortunate the season is coming to an end because I feel stronger than I did earlier in the year.”