Until the end of June, we Chicago Cubs fans have had very little to cheer about during the 2012 season. Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, though, did his part to give us reason to cheer by pitching terrific baseball for most of his starts and compiling a streak of 33 consecutive scoreless innings. The Cubs went on a 14-6 run from June 25 to July 20 - the Major Leagues' best record during that time -- and the second half has started to look more promising.
By the end of that run, Dempster reduced his ERA to 2.11, tied for the Major League's best among qualifiers. At the same time, trade rumors abounded, and it looked like he might not get a shot at the Cubs' all-time scoreless innings record of 44 set back in 1908. The Cubs even acquired right-handed pitcher Justin Germano from the Boston Red Sox in case of a trade before Dempster's start against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 20. We all know a trade is inevitable, but I really wanted to see Dempster break the record first. He got his chance, but the streak ended when he allowed three runs to the Cardinals in the first inning. He pitched well from then on, allowing one more run in five more innings, but he took the loss.
This may very well have been Dempster's final game as a Cub. His is 5-4 with that Major-League leading ERA as of the start of play on July 21. With the July 31 trade deadline looming, team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are fielding offers. If it goes to the deadline, then Dempster will have one more start for the Cubs on Wednesday, July 25, at the Pittsburgh Pirates, barring a break in the rotation. Personally, I do not want to see Dempster traded at all, but if it makes the team better for the future, then the trade is necessary. He could possibly have this one last chance to end his Cubs tenure with a win. If a trade before then would bring a better return, though, then I say go ahead and make the trade.
I am glad that he had his chance at the record. I am even gladder that he pitched so well for the Cubs for so long. Dempster came to the Cubs in 2004 and was a huge part of two division titles: in 2007 as a closer (28 saves) and 2008 as a starter (17-6 record). He has a career Cub record of 67-65 with a 3.73 ERA and 87 saves in nine seasons. It is unusual these days to see a player remain with one team for so long, which makes it tough to see him leave while pitching so well. Nevertheless, I am a Cub fan first and want to see the team improved for the future, but I will wish Dempster the best with his new team, whoever that is.
Baseball Reference, Ryan Dempster Player Page, baseball-reference.com as of July 21, 2012.
Carrie Muskat, Dempster Struggles in Series-Opening Loss vs. Cards, cubs.mlb.com, July 20, 2012.
Carrie Muskat, Germano Joins Cubs Bullpen among Dempster Rumors, cubs.mlb.com, July 20, 2012.
Major League Baseball, Sortable Player Statistics, mlb.mlb.com as of July 21, 2012.
Raymond grew up in Florida and began watching the Cubs on WGN in 1982. He became a fan in 1984 when Ryne Sandberg hit the two famous game-tying home runs off Cardinals closer and former Cub Bruce Sutter. Raymond then solidified his team loyalty when the Cubs won the division later that season and has been a fan ever since. Follow Raymond on Twitter @RayBureau.
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