(Sports Network) - The problem with first impressions is that you can only
So if the Texas Rangers are ready to abandon Ryan Dempster after one start,
it's totally understandable.
But let's get serious here.
Fitting in at a new job isn't always easy and there may be times when antacids
should be within an arm's length. It's the same in baseball. Some players
become apprehensive playing in front of crowds, family or their employers, and
others couldn't have a care or worry in the world.
Dempster comes off as calm and collected, and rather humorous to boot, but
facing an American League lineup for the first time should be no laughing
matter. Staring down the barrels of nine men who have the aptitude to hit all
parts of the field is something Dempster had never done before.
Sure it's nice going against pitchers under National League rules because they
haven't concentrated on swinging the bat since high school. Once you're
drafted as a pitcher, that's your position unless a fallout occurs. Dempster
was put on full blast Thursday under the bright lights at Rangers Ballpark and
exhibited no signs of what the coveted right-hander has been known for
throughout his career, especially through more than half of this season.
Dempster lasted just 4 2/3 innings in a 15-9 win over the Los Angeles Angels of
Anaheim and allowed a season-high eight runs and nine hits, including a pair of
home runs. He struck out six, walked three and had his shortest outing since
going 4 1/3 frames against San Diego back on May 30 as a member of the Chicago
Dempster, who could impersonate former Cubs announcer Harray Caray to a tee,
had one comfort zone in pitching to catcher Geovany Soto. Soto also joined the
Rangers via trade with Texas, but the familiarity proved nothing.
Is it a big deal Dempster pitched poorly and Texas still won? Yes. Why?
Because pitching is key to winning and the Rangers' starters haven't been so
hot lately. Matt Harrison has lost three of four starts, Yu Darvish is 1-3 in
his past four decisions and Derek Holland has one win in his past three
outings. Also, Colby Lewis has joined Neftali Perez with a season-ending
Texas is in the thick of a division race and sits 4 1/2 games ahead of the
Angels for the AL West lead. Dempster won't get a shot at redemption until
next week against either Boston or Detroit, but was somewhat pleased with his
debut even though the bullpen and an alarming Rangers' lineup bailed him out.
"The most important thing was I kept the team in the ball game and gave us a
chance to win," Dempster said afterward. "I'm not really used to that, giving
up eight runs. It was quite an offensive outburst and a good win for us."
Angels left fielder Mark Trumbo said his teammates took advantage of
Dempster's rarely made mistakes. That's what winning teams do, and even though
the Angels came out on the losing end, they rattled Dempster enough that he
most likely won't forget the difficulty he had the next time he faces Anaheim.
As previously mentioned, Dempster was hounded for eight runs; he didn't allow
that many through his last seven starts as a Cub.
Typically an off-speed pitcher, Dempster's tough slider wasn't hitting the
spots and it resulted in three walks. Once he departed the game, the Texas
bullpen held the Angels scoreless until Joe Nathan gave up a two-out homer to
Alberto Callaspo in the ninth.
When Dempster's deal was finalized, it pushed Roy Oswalt to the bullpen, and
the latter threw two scoreless innings in his first relief appearance since
2010 to record the win.
Rangers manager Ron Washington liked what he saw from the spurned Oswalt.
"He was the reason that we had a chance to win that game," Washington said of
Oswalt. "He's a veteran. He's been around. Once he takes that mound, a pride
factor kicks in. He certainly did a good job for those two innings that he was
out there. We certainly needed it and he gave it to us."
Don't expect to see Dempster join or replace Oswalt in the 'pen if he has
another lousy outing. But do assume the Rangers to begin feeling somewhat
uneasy as the race toward the postseason heats up.
Speaking of playoff races, the Washington Nationals have made news about a
pitcher of their won.
Young flamethrower Stephen Strasburg is expected to be shut down when he hits
the 160-innings mark, and he's already pitched 121 1/3 innings. Nationals
general manager Mike Rizzo said he owes it to Strasburg and his family to not
burn out the kid since he already had elbow ligament replacement surgery.
"There is no magic number," Rizzo said a few weeks ago. "It will be the eye
test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won't decide, and ownership won't decide. It
will be the general manager, and that's me."
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Strasburg should
be monitored closely so it doesn't jeopardize his future and the club's. The
ace of the Nationals staff is in the plans for this year and beyond, and the
future is the most important part even if it plays a role in a postseason push
come September and October.
Strasburg can pout if he chooses to, but it's not his call in the end.
The Sports Network