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.
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.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.