Its starting to feel like Ryan Dempster is going to have a lot of “final starts” for the Cubs….
While rumors have been swirling all week about the potential trade to Atlanta, his preference for the Dodgers, and his falling out with a lot of Cubbie faithful, he looked extremely solid on the mound today.
Dempster went 6 innings strong, with 3ER (2 on homers alone), 5 hits and 6Ks which is respectable for a starter. He had his mix working beautifully, often relying on his splitter (which he had ranging from 79MpH all the way to 88MpH) to finish the Pirates’ batters off. Fastball location was never an issue and he kept many of the Pirates’ batters looking lost at the plate.
His box score looks very good for a starter but Dempster was not happy with his performance after the game as he was seen pulling a “big Z” move and smashing the water cooler. I understand his temper considering how strong his performance was only to somewhat fade in the 5th and 6th innings. Regardless, I’m sure he wanted to earn a W for the Cubs for one last time and sadly, he was unable to do so.
While Dempster did a solid job keeping the Pirates’ at bay, the Cubs’ bats were far from present. Anthony Rizzo hit his first homerun (a solo shot) in what feels like an eternity and drove in the only other Cubs’ run. He went 2 for 3 with 1BB, 1SO, 2 RBI and was LOB once. Its hard to say that he was in a “slump” as his .323/.357/.527 triple slash says otherwise, but the long ball was certainly not present – today’s homer being only his 5th this season. Look for him to rebound in the very near future
Darwin Barney and David DeJesus were the only other two Cubs to earn hits today, and consequently they were both doubles. While this means little to nothing unless they’re brought in to score by other batters, it’s still a neat little fact that I thought you might enjoy. Barney had an outstanding day defensively and continues to be one of the most solid Cubs’ position players. He is quickly showing that he is capable of handling the number 4 position and you can bet that the Cubs’ brass are taking notice.
Luis Valbuena had a very forgettable day going 0 for 4 and striking out 3 times. This will bring up the “Where is Josh Vitters? How come he hasn’t been called up yet?” question and while it is a valid one, he’s still not ready to assume a starting role on a Major League team. He may be better than Valbuena, but this is irrelevant as the focus of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer is to organically allow players to develop within the Cubs’ system. The folks who cry out for Vitters’ presence should be ignored as they’re largely uninformed, impulsive and just flat out wrong (Sounds like the Free Rizzo campaign all over again doesn’t it?).
The bullpen continues to be a pleasant surprise for the Cubs this season as Scott Maine, Manuel Corpas and Shawn Camp all had clean box scores. Maine has had his fair share of struggles this season, but was effective enough to earn the only out he was expected to. Corpas only needed to throw 7 pitches/7 strikes to earn two outs. Camp saw his first game in quite some time and was effective throwing 10 pitches/ 9 strikes. Cant complain with results like that.
While the bats once again sold the Cubs short, the series against the Pirates has been highlighted by outstanding pitching all the way through from Paul Maholm, Jeff Samardzija and Ryan Dempster. They take the series win and will have the day off tomorrow before facing the St. Louis Cardinals at home.
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