With just minutes to spare, the Texas Rangers acted to reinforce their rotation by sending a pair of minor-leaguers to the Chicago Cubs to get right-hander Ryan Dempster.
Dempster, 35, was a much-needed boost for a rotation that has been racked by season-ending injuries to Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz. In a lot of respects, Dempster resembles Lewis, whose spot at the top of the rotation he will take.
Neither has an overpowering fastball, but both have learned the art of pitching over the last decade.
Dempster's fastball has averaged only 89.4 mph this season, which ranked 47th among 59 qualifiers in the NL. It would rank 35th of 41 among AL qualifiers. Lewis ranked 39th in the AL. To be successful with that kind of fastball requires strong command. Dempster has responded by lowering his walk rate to 2.3 per nine innings, the best of his career.
"What I like is he's got savvy, tremendous pitch ability," manager Ron Washington said. "He can be exactly what we're looking for to lead our young pitching staff forward."
"It's exciting for me to go somewhere that has a real, real good chance of getting to the World Series for the third straight year," said Dempster, who can become a free agent after the season. "I'm excited for this new chapter of my career."
Despite a pair of trips to the disabled list earlier this season, Dempster (5-5) had the second-lowest ERA in the NL at 2.25. He was holding hitters to a .210 batting average, the second lowest among NL qualifiers.
In exchange for Dempster, the Rangers sent the Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva. Both players were at Class A Myrtle Beach.