CHICAGO -- Ryan Dempster wasn’t about to leave the Cubs before moving into territory rarely seen in these parts over the last century.
Expected to be traded by the July 31 non-waiver deadline, Dempster added six more scoreless innings to the pile Saturday, giving him 33 consecutive dating back to June 5 at Minnesota. It’s just one of four streaks that long in the last 95 Cubs seasons.
Even without very good command, Dempster was still able to tie Ken Holtzman for longest scoring streak from a Cubs starter since 1969. Bill Lee had scoreless streaks of 37 and 35 innings in 1938.
The six innings also gave Dempster a career-high scoreless streak, passing the 30 1/3 innings he had as a reliever between the 2005 and 2006 seasons.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Dempster said. “I think as a reliever when you do something like that it seems more realistic because you’re going out there one inning at a time. But to go out there start after start and not give up any runs, it’s pretty humbling. I’m just trying to get outs and win ballgames. I’m not expecting that.”
Most impressive of all is that the streak has continued even after a stint on the disabled list because of a sore muscle behind his right shoulder. Since returning he had five scoreless innings last Sunday at New York and now six more at home against Arizona.
What the consecutive scoreless outings since returning have done is shown teams interested in him that there probably isn’t anything to worry about.
Give Dempster credit. He might not be around much longer but he is making sure the Cubs get the best possible return on a trade. Multiple teams will be interested in a hot starting pitcher who is a veteran and that will only increase the talent the Cubs receive.
“He’s fantastic,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “He’s a top notch clubhouse guys and really a leader. He wanted to come back so badly from that injury. It showed us a lot. We could have taken it slower with him. He wanted to get back on the mound really quickly to compete and obviously pitched well in New York. He’s a guy that loves the competition on the mound and he wants to be out there and wants to be a part of it as much as possible.”
When Dempster walked opposing pitcher Joe Saunders to lead off the fifth inning, it could have spelled doom to the scoreless streak, especially since the top of the lineup was coming to the plate. But Dempster got Gerrardo Parra to ground into a 3-6-3 double play and Aaron Hill flied out.
“He was a little up but he just makes pitches when he has to,” manager Dale Sveum said. “It looked like he was kind of losing it there when he walked the pitcher. Then all of the sudden he came back with probably his best stuff all day. We got him right to the 90-pitch mark in six innings this time so it all worked out as much as you draw it out.”
By the time his next outing rolls around, Dempster will be free from a post-DL pitch count. Whether that outing is with the Cubs, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Tigers, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, etc., remains to be seen.