25 in 25: Ryan Dempster


Player Profile: One of the most attractive parts of Ryan Dempster when Ben Cherington and co. pursued his last offseason was his reputation as a great clubhouse guy. While Dempster’s pitching may be worth the 2 year/$26.5 million deal that he signed with the Red Sox, his exploits off the field may have made up for it. Over the last few seasons, Dempster has carved out a niche as a crafty veteran who is great in the clubhouse and can pitch in both the rotation and the bullpen. Because of this, he is more valuable than he may appear on the surface.

As a pitcher, he is relatively mediocre. Now 36 years old, Dempster has lost some of the life on his fastball and breaking balls that made him a good mid-rotation starter and closer (that’s right, closer) for the Cubs from 2004-2010. His slider is still a decent pitch for him, but oftentimes his fastball would not even break 90 miles per hour towards the end of last season. However, it did appear that Dempster had gained some weight throughout the year and perhaps an offseason of workouts will re-vitalize him.

Oct 4, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster (46) delivers a pitch during the ninth inning in game one of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. The Boston Red Sox won 12-2. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

2013 and Recent Past: Dempster’s 2013 season got off to a fantastic start. He got off to a phenomenal start in April, where he posted a 3.30 ERA and 12.9 K/9 in 5 starts (30.0 innings pitched) and shocked the league. However, Dempster faded as the season progressed, as after a good stretch in June, Dempster posted respective ERA’s of 4.87 and 6.75 in July and August before being largely removed from the rotation after he plunked Alex Rodriguez on that fateful night. Dempster showed the pattern of a strong start-slow finish in 2012 too, although that could be related to the fact that he moved from Chicago to Texas. Hopefully, however, this is not a trend for Dempster and he shows he is able to roll through an entire season in 2014.

2014 Outlook: He may not have to roll through an entire season, however. There is an at least tangible chance that Dempster or another starting pitcher is traded before the 2014 season even begins. And if nobody is traded, Dempster is highly likely to start the season as a long-man/spot starter in the Red Sox’ bullpen. Dempster did prove that he could handle this role in limited time in relief last season, pitching 2.2 scoreless innings in September. However, he’ll largely be an unknown as we begin the 2014 season.