Ryan Dempster leads baseball with a 1.02 ERA … and has zero wins

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Ryan Dempster threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Braves last night, which actually raised his MLB-leading ERA to 1.02.

He’s gone at least 6.2 innings in all five of his starts, allowing 1, 2, 0, 0, and 1 earned runs … and has zero wins to show for it.

Hopefully most HBT readers know how we feel about the silliness of pitcher “wins” at this point, but Dempster is another extreme example of how misleading and misguided the statistic can be.

He’s allowed four earned runs in 35.1 innings, yet the Cubs have lost all five of his starts while scoring a grand total of eight runs. Last night he exited after seven innings with the score tied 1-1 and then reliever Kerry Wood took the loss.

With any kind of decent support from the bullpen and lineup Dempster could easily be 5-0 with a 1.02 ERA and everyone would be talking about him as the season’s breakout pitcher. Instead he’s 0-1 with a 1.02 ERA and … well, all he gets is this blog post.

Oh, and here’s an amusing stat considering Dempster has allowed just four earned runs all year: Already this season there have been 22 instances of a pitcher allowing four or more earned runs in a game and earning the “win.”

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.