Is Ryan Dempster a Game 1 candidate?
The veteran starter can continue to make his case tonight against Cleveland. And he comes in with plenty of confidence. Dempster has five wins since Aug. 1, tied with four others in the AL for the most during that span, and has a four-game winning streak. After a rocky start to his Rangers career, Dempster has settled in and pitched more like the guy that was putting up an impressive ERA with the Chicago Cubs and became an important trade-deadline acquisition for the Rangers.
So what's been the key to Dempster's success the last handful of starts?
"My ability to stay focused on the task at hand and not look back, just keep looking forward," Dempster said. "I was pretty much doing the same thing there (in Chicago). I just had a couple of starts here where I didn't execute pitches and I paid for it."
Dempster has been adjusting to hitters in the AL and notes that he's pitching to an extra hitter, one that's a DH instead of the pitcher or a bench player batting for the pitcher deep in an NL lineup.
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Dempster hasn't been in too many jams in his last four starts. He's 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA with 28 strikeouts and nine walks. Opponents have hit .191 in those starts and he's pitched at least six innings in all of them.
Dempster is also a veteran who could give the rotation that steady hand. Is he the type of guy you'd want pitching Game 1 of the ALDS if he continues to pitch as he has the past four starts? Should he get consideration?
For me, I've still got this between Harrison and Darvish, but Dempster could change my mind. I like his mentality and consistency. He's pitching now like he did in Chicago, so he has a full season body of work. But so does Harrison, and no one on the staff is pitching better than Darvish right now. It's an interesting race.
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