2009 Recap: Ryan Dempster
Because of how prominently these recaps are titled, I probably shouldn't lead this one with, "Guess who led the Cubs in innings pitched and strikeouts?" But I'm clever, so I basically just did it anyway without you even noticing.
P.S. The answer is Ryan Dempster!!!
At the beginning of this season, a lot of Cubs fans were expecting to be really super pissed at Demp right about now. No one thought he'd be able to deliver on the four-year, $52 million deal he signed in the offseason.
But deliver he did, maintaining a 3.65 ERA over 200 innings, with 172 strikeouts to just 65 walks. To put those numbers into context, Dempster allowed 65 walks in one game this past postseason. (Consider yourself lucky if you don't get that joke.)
For the statheads out there, Dempster's '09 season was worth 3.7 wins over a replacement level pitcher, a value of just over $16 million, or twice his 2009 salary.
How'd he do it? Demp ended up taking the meh-diocre route, allowing two or fewer runs in only 16 of his 31 starts, and allowing three runs in exactly three starts. That's 12 starts with 4 or more runs, which is kinda not really all that great, actually.
In fact, that's probably the best explanation for why a guy with a 3.65 ERA only won 11 of his 31 starts.
Having said that, Ryan avoided disasters for the most part (although 6 ER in 4 IP against the frikkin' Pirates is pretty dern close). And he managed to post a few really good lines, too, like his two games against the Dodgers (7IP, 0ER, 3H, 1BB, 5K in each).
And of the 15 starts with two or fewer earned runs allowed, Ryan allowed zero earned runs in seven of them.
Beyond the numbers, there was one majorly frustrating moment during Dempster's 2009 season. Heck, when a kid in the stands starts pointing and laughing at you, you know you've screwed up.
That was when Ryan broke his toe on July 5th. He pulled a move that's known in sports circles as a "Gramatica," severely injuring himself while attempting to celebrate a recent victory.
But even with that stoopid move, Demp managed to hit the 200IP mark, give the Cubs a bunch of chances to win, and basically earn his salary. I'd put my money on another 200IP, sub-4.00 ERA season next year, too.
WAY TO GO, RYAN!!!