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Series Preview #19: Ryan Dempster and the Cubs are in Town

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24-30 (4th place, NL Central)
18-36 (6th place, NL Central)

GAME 1: June 5, 2012 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin and WGN; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

: June 6, 2012 @ 7:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

GAME 3: June 7, 2012 @ 1:10 p.m. CDT
(TV: FS-Wisconsin; Radio: 620 WTMJ)

Miller Park | Milwaukee, Wisconsin

SBN Coverage: Cubs vs Brewers coverage

A View from the Other Dugout: Bleed Cubbie Blue

Game 1 Yovani Gallardo (4-4, 4.22) vs. Ryan Dempster (0-3, 2.90)
vs. Cubs (1-0, 1.29) vs. Brewers (0-1, 2.70)
Game 2 Zack Greinke (6-2, 3.46) vs. Paul Maholm (4-4, 4.82)
vs. Cubs (0-1, 19.74) vs. Brewers (0-1, 13.50)
Game 3 Randy Wolf (2-5, 6.05) vs. Matt Garza (2-4, 4.10)
vs. Cubs (0-0, 0.00) vs. Brewers (1-0, 0.66)

In anticipation of this week's series against the Cubs, Kyle asked me to take a look at Ryan Dempster, who the Brewers will face tonight for the third time this season. Dempster is the exception to a lot of things we think we know about baseball. He was a decent but unspectacular starter in his early career, and then joined the Cubs and pitched out of their bullpen from 2004-2007. He went back into the rotation in 2008 and simply became a much better pitcher, which is something that very rarely happens. If it seems like Dempster has owned the Brewers in the past couple of years, well yes, he has in some ways. But he's also been busy owning just about every other team in MLB.

So far he has put up one of his finest seasons in the rotation, with his second-lowest FIP since he moved back to starting in 2008. Dempster is not a guy that overthinks it. It's fastballs, sliders, and changeups. Dempster is also an interesting case study for the reliever---> starter transition, he actually began throwing less changeups and more fastballs/sliders in the rotation. His slider is definitely his best pitch and functions as something more of a cutter these days, only 4 mph off his average fastball.

With Dempster you're going to get a fastball or slider close to 90% of the time, and those pitches are going to be between 84 and 90 miles per hour. His slider, his year, averages 89 and slider 85, with the two-seam sinker somewhere in between. His changeup (or maybe it's a splitter, they function the same way) is going to come in around 81.5, and he uses it just enough to keep hitters honest.

I think Dempster's slider (or cutter, if you want to call it that) is the key to his success, especially since he's moved to the rotation and started throwing it more. Not only is it his best pitch at inducing swings and misses, it's also his best pitch at inducing ground balls. The fact that it's only 4 mph off his 4-seamer and less off his sinker, and that it's not a huge breaking ball for being so effective, makes me think it functions as more of a good cutter than anything. Right-handed hitters don't know if that mid to high 80s pitch is going to break quickly away from them, stay straight, or bend slightly back in like a 2-seamer.

Dempster keeps it pretty simple and has made a nice career for himself, and might get traded to a contender at the deadline this year. I would imagine the Brewers would inquire about the asking price if he were to become available. But today the Brewers need to stay patient and work the count, because sometimes the best way to beat a good pitcher like Dempster is to get him out of the game.