ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 2: Ryan Dempster #46 of the Texas Rangers delivers a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on August 2, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
When the Texas Rangers traded two Single-A pitching prospects to the Chicago Cubs for their ace, Ryan Dempster, at the July 31 trade deadline, it was thought that Dempster would be a three-month rental used to fill the gaps left by Neftali Feliz's and Colby Lewis' season-ending injuries.
After six starts in a Rangers uniform, we might be looking at a guy who the Rangers want to keep around for a while by giving him a new contract.
In Wednesday's win over Cleveland, Dempster put up another impressive line, going seven innings and giving up two runs with eight strikeouts and a walk, but it wasn't all easy for Dempster.
In the fourth inning, two singles and a walk loaded the bases for the Indians with no outs, but like he's done so many times recently, Dempster found a way out of the jam by getting a strikeout, a groundout and another strikeout to limit the damage to one run and looking awfully ticked at himself coming off the field. He managed to go three more innings, retiring nine straight batters to end his night.
He's now won five straight starts and has posted a 1.91 ERA with 36 strikeouts and 10 walks over that time.
"I just have to do my job, be prepared and try to execute as many pitches as possible," Dempster told reporters after the game.
And so far, with the exception of two of his first three starts when he got bombed by two good hitting lineups, he's done just that. And he's making a case to not only be a top-flight guy come playoff time, but also be a guy the Rangers might consider signing in the off-season when he hits free agency.
You'd have to imagine Dempster's main priority would be getting back to the National League, where he put up a sub-3.00 ERA before being traded to the more hitter-friendly AL. But maybe Dempster would like to have a lineup like the Rangers' behind him on a nightly basis. Dempster is basically Colby Lewis, maybe a little better, maybe a little worse depending on the day, but being compared to Lewis is not a bad thing. With Lewis likely shelved until next summer, it's not certain the Rangers will lose him anymore as it was becoming clear the Rangers wouldn't be able to pay Lewis what he'd earn on the free agent market this winter. Maybe Lewis could come back for a one-year deal on the cheap, let him come back and build up some free agent value and see where it goes from there.
Would you want two grinding innings-eaters on your staff who are likely to get bombed every now and then? That's up for debate. But it certainly couldn't hurt to have a guy like Dempster on the staff next season.