Ryan Dempster

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.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.