It’s never easy for a pitcher to have to pack up and switch teams. You adjust to a club house, coaching, catchers and the other staff you pitch with every week. Add on to that the pressure of adjusting to a new division and a new league, and the adventure intensifies. Rangers pitcher Ryan Dempster was set on such an adventure on July 31, and so far each start has shown him learning and growing as he continues to adjust to life in the American League.
Many fans, when asked about a National League pitcher coming over to the American League, show an uncanny ability to utter the same phrase right off the bat: “It’s going to be rough goings for X player. NL pitchers have a lot of trouble translating well.” Rangers fans, in particular, look back at Lee’s first starts with Texas and fire off a quick, “See? It’s true!” I will admit, when Dempster gave up eight runs on nine hits in four and two-thirds innings against the Angels and eight runs on nine hits over six innings against New York, I thought they may be right. The question then was one of whether the Rangers did the right thing in signing Dempster and would he really work out in the AL?
Dempster’s next four starts helped show a different side of Dempster’s abilities. In a total of twenty-six innings since the New York game, he has yielded five runs on eighteen hits, with nine walks and twenty-eight strike outs. His most well rounded game in that stretch was against a very good Baltimore team where he went eight innings and yielded one run on four hits, with two walks and six strike outs. Many analysts as of late are claiming that “this is the Ryan Dempster the Rangers went out and traded for” and it looks to be true.
His litmus test will come when he faces Oakland and Los Angeles as the season winds down. Both teams will have something to fight for, as will the Rangers, so he will need to continue to his progression and his learning to help lead the staff into the ending stretch of regular play. If his last four starts are a concrete indication of what he’s capable of, regardless of opponent, then I feel confident that he will be able to be strong in each game he starts and will do his best to keep his team in the game and allow them to win.