Thoughts on Ryan Dempster

Ron CoomerContributor IApril 18, 2010

CHICAGO - APRIL 12: Starting pitcher Ryan Dempster #46 of the Chicago Cubs delivers the ball against the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Brewers 9-5. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Ryan Dempster isn't a bad pitcher. Sure, he isn't nearly worth his contract extension that Jim Hendry typically gives players past their prime, which comes out to $12.5 million this year, $13.5 million next year, and a $14 million player option that he is sure to pick up (at age 35), but he really isn't all that bad.

Dempster has pitched with mixed success in his two starts this season. Over those two games, he's pitched a 3.55 xFIP (which measures how well the pitcher performs without fielders, good or bad). The stat shows that his fielders are failing him, as his ERA stands at 4.38.

Looking past runs allowed, he has pitched pretty well, but there is some worry. So far, he has posted an exceptional strikeout rate, at 10.22 K/9. That, coupled with an equally exceptional 1.8 ground-ball/fly-ball ratio, spells a recipe for certain success for pitchers: strike-outs and ground-balls.

On the flip-side of course, Dempster has been exceptionally wild so far. He has posted a 4.38 BB/9 ratio on the season. On top of that, he's hit the zone 37.1 percent of the time, good enough for worst in the majors. Yes, that means 63 percent of his pitches would be balls, if not swung at.

Something of importance is Dempster's pitch count. In his first start, he threw 95 pitches in 6.0 innings, which is nothing too alarming. In his next start however, he threw 114 pitches in 6.1 innings.

Both starts were high pitch counts, due explicitly to a high number of balls thrown. Control may continue to be something of a pariah in the future.