Ryan Dempster and digging out of a hole

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Ryan Dempster has to be feeling pretty good about himself at this point.  He struck out 11 Friday in beating the Giants.  It was his third straight quality start, as he allowed a total of two runs in six innings.

And lowered his ERA to 6.71.

That’s how bad Dempster’s April was.  He gave up at least four runs in each of his six outings, culminating in a career low April 28 against the Dodgers.  In that meltdown, he was charged with seven runs in one-third of an inning, taking his ERA to 9.58.

Now the long trial to bring it down has begun.  He lowered it to 8.05 by holding the Dodgers to one run in seven innings on May 3.  On May 8, he gave up two runs over seven innings against the Reds, putting him at 7.20.  The margins keep getting smaller, though.  Friday’s win knocked him down only half a run.

Dempster finished last year with a 3.85 ERA in 215 1/3 innings. 

To finish that well this year, he’d have to give up 54 runs in 164 1/34 innings the rest of the way, a 2.96 mark.

In 2009, he came in at 3.65 in 200 IP.

To match that, he’d have to allow 43 runs in 149 innings, a 2.60 mark.

In 2008, Dempster came in at 2.96 over 206 2/3 innings.

That seems unreachable.  He’d have to pitch 155 2/3 innings at a 1.73 mark to duplicate that number.

Dempster is certainly on the right path now.  His 11 strikeouts Friday were his most since June 11, 2008.  His slider and, more inportantly, his confidence are back.

As for his numbers, well, they’ve got a ways to go.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.