Ryan Dempster has been a solid pitcher the past three seasons, despite seeing his ERA and WHIP increase each season. However, even if you were to believe that he was going to continue to falter, no one would have predicted the unbelievable struggle he’s had in 2011.
Granted, the numbers are greatly skewed when you allow 7 ER over just 0.1 innings, but it’s not like he has actually been good in any start. He headed into the April 28 start with a 7.63 ERA, having allowed no fewer than 4 ER in any start. In fact he has allowed at least 5 ER in four of his six starts this season.
You can argue that he’s seen his share of poor luck, and that is certainly fair. Thus far he is sporting a .344 BABIP and 53.9% strand rate. Clearly you wouldn’t expect those numbers to continue, but it would be unjustified to simply point to them as the sole issues he’s faced.
Dempster has struggled with walks in 2011, walking three or more in four starts (including his epic 0.1 inning disaster). With that in mind, look at his BB/9 since returning to the starting rotation:
- 2008 – 3.31
- 2009 – 2.93
- 2010 – 3.59
- 2011 – 4.65
It’s certainly an issue and, if he can’t rectify it, it will help prevent him from posting an ERA under 4.00, even from this point forward.
While his 1.87 WHIP is outrageously bad, the previous two seasons he has been at 1.31 and 1.32. He was never going to be a good source in that regard. The control issues, unfortunately, just make things worse.
He also has struggled with the long ball, with a HR/FB of 23.7%. It shouldn’t be surprising to see him giving up home runs, especially in Wrigley Field. However, those problems generally present themselves as the weather gets warmer and the wind starts blowing out. That has not yet been the problem, and he’s allowing 2.61 HR per 9 innings.
Like the poor ERA/WHIP, however, the home run problem is nearly impossible to imagine continuing. Not that he’s an elite pitcher, but he’s not this bad.
Is it a surprise that he’s struggled? No, it isn’t. In the 2011 Rotoprofessor Draft Guide I had Dempster ranked as the 78th best starting pitcher, saying:
“He got the job done again in 2010 (3.85 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 208 K), but the ERA and WHIP did regress for the third consecutive season. The strikeouts were nearly his career best (he had 209 all the way back in 2000), so it’s hard to imagine him maintaining that mark. It wouldn’t surprise me if he continued to regress, meaning Dempster is a pitcher I would avoid on draft day.”
At this point, however, things have changed. While I avoided him on draft day, he also is not this bad. It’s very possible that his owner has become disgusted with his performance (and rightfully so), making Dempster an intriguing trade target. I still wouldn’t expect amazing numbers from him (I had projected him at 4.14 ERA and 1.37 WHIP), but he certainly should put up some significantly better statistics then he has thus far.
If I can get him for pennies on the dollar, than he certainly becomes a gamble worth taking. If I can’t, I’m not going to lose any sleep.
What do you think of Dempster? Do you think he will turn it around? Is he a player that you would be willing to acquire in a trade?
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