Ryan Dempster May Answer Red Sox Setup Relief Questions
Ryan Dempster could be the solution to the Red Sox biggest question going into the playoffs: late inning setup relief. It is the biggest weakness the team is showing as it heads into the postseason but Dempster could really give the bullpen a lift.
Between 2005-2007 Dempster was a closer with the Chicago Cubs, posting 85 saves over those three seasons. But the Red Sox don’t need saves out of him. They need an effective inning of setup work late in games and Dempster could be just the guy to make it happen.
He has been very successful this season in the first inning, giving up just seven earned runs in that inning with a K/BB ratio of 32/9.
Aug 7, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Ryan Dempster (46) pitches against the Houston Astros during the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
He’s also had a pattern this year of starting games strong with a lot of strikeouts early on. His combination of veteran experience and that kind of one inning effectiveness could give the Red Sox something they really need.
Today, manager John Farrell announced that Dempster would be sent to the bullpen for the remainder of the regular season. It seems to be a prelude to using Dempster as a new weapon out of the pen in the playoffs.
The seventh and eighth innings have been a dilemma for manager John Farrell since the team promoted former setup man Koji Uehara to closer. No one has stepped forward and grabbed the job by the throat.
Junichi Tazawa, Brandon Workman and Craig Breslow have been the main setup trio for the late innings and all have been effective at times, particularly Breslow who has shown the most consistency.
But Tazawa has had issues at times with location and a tired arm and is prone to the long ball with eight homers allowed in 66.2 innings.
Workman has a power arm and can get a big strikeout but at times he has been the polar opposite of Dempster by struggling in his first inning of work. He’s had the chance to make the eighth inning his own and has been very good at times, just not lights out. Plus, he is a rookie.
Farrell is a smart manager. He knows the team has too many starters for these postseason series that have plenty of off days. He knows Dempster is a gritty veteran who still has good stuff and will not wilt under the late inning spotlight.
If Farrell’s hunch is right, and the starting pitching and lineup perform as they have, Dempster may just be the determining factor as to how far the Sox can go this postseason.