Ryan Dempster is a good guy. He is a nice guy. He is a very funny guy. Sadly none of those things help you when you are out on the mound trying to get guys out.
Real quick before I go on, how awesome is that picture? I mean seriously google Ryan Dempster and that is the first picture that pops up. How could I not use it with the lovely Marisa Miller in it? Ok back to business.
Now in his 8th season with the Cubs, Dempster has done it all for them. He spent the first four seasons in the bullpen and three of those were very successful years as the closer where he saved 87 games. The last few years though he has been a starter and after winning 17 games with a 2.96 ERA in 2008 it has been steadily going downhill.
Like I said in 2008 he won 17, losing only 6 while pitching 206 innings in his 33 starts. He also struck out 187 while only walking 76. To say the least it was a career year and was very unexpected since he hadn't started a game since 2002.
I can break down all his stats over the last few years and show the difference between year and year but to be honest that just masks the problem and it pretty boring.
All I did was look at 4 key stats to see the problem. Once Ryan let's a guy get on base he is allowing them to score way too often. So let's look at his hits, runs, earned runs and homers.
2008- 174, 75, 68, 14
2009- 196, 94, 81, 22
2010- 198, 110, 92, 25
2011- 38, 27, 16, 8
So far in 2011 he has yet to give up less then 4 runs in any game and that is also the only game he made it to the 7th inning in. In 2008 & 2009 he had a comfortable difference in hits and runs but then in 2009 it wasn't the case. He has allowed more hits, more homers and therefore more runs to score. Now this year there is hardly a difference. He is currently 1-2 but could easily be 1-4. His ERA is at 7.63 and has gone up each of the last 3 games.
So far this season it just seems like Mike Quade and pitching coach Mark Riggins just want Ryan to pitch his 100 pitches no matter how poorly he is pitching. He is averaging 6 innings and throwing 106 pitches per outing but has been left in far too long in several.
I'm concerned that Dempster could be hurt and just playing through the pain or maybe he is just distracted by other issues. His daughter has been struggling with illness since 2009. Whatever the issue is something needs to be done. He will be turning 34 this May and is still under contract with the Cubs till after the 2012 season at a hefty price tag of $14 million.
I hope the best for Ryan because he is a good guy but he needs to produce. Hopefully this whole Cubs staff will start to pitch better once Mark Riggins is no longer on the staff but that issue is for another day.