One would never guess Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster just missed three weeks with a strained lat muscle. Back from the DL on Sunday, he shut out the Mets for five innings, extending his scoreless streak to 27 innings.
The Cubs went on to win 7-0.
R.A. Dickey had an even longer scoreless-inning streak this season (32 2/3, to be exact), but Dempster is the first pitcher to go four straight starts without allowing a run since Zack Greinke went five in the row from Sept. 18, 2008-April 18, 2009. Dempster’s outing was abbreviated today because he was coming back from the injury, but he pitched a total of 22 innings in the first three starts.
It’s possible that today’s start will go down as Dempster’s last as a Cub. The trade rumors were starting to come fast and furious last month before he got hurt, and now that he’s healthy again, it wouldn’t be a shock to see him moved over the All-Star break.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.