At the moment, Ryan Dempster stands a much better opportunity to help the Braves catch the Nationals or, at the very least, make the playoffs than does Randall Delgado. Over the next five years — the time which the Cubs will control Delgado — they will almost certainly reap more value from him than Atlanta will reap from Dempster. Such is the way of trade deadline deals.
The Braves needed the rotation help now. They have the 14th best rotation in a 16 team league. Dempster has been one of the best starters in baseball this year. No, he’s not as good as his numbers in the first half indicate — no one is — but he should prove to be a far more reliable rotation presence for Atlanta between now and September.
In Delgado, the Cubs got exactly what they need: young talent. While his season has been lackluster so far, he’s just 22 and what is acceptable for a bad team in rebuilding mode is totally different than what is acceptable for a playoff contender. A few rough months in the bigs does not change the fact that Delgado has a bright future. Maybe not as a top-of-the-order ace, but certainly as a solid major league starter.
There have been some suggestions on Twitter today that the Braves think they have a chance to sign Dempster after the season is over and that he may be amenable. That’s noise at the moment and irrelevant noise at that. The Braves traded for him knowing that they only have the next 2+ months of Dempster guaranteed and that, if they make the playoffs with his help, the trade will have been worth it in the short term. Besides, signing Dempster to an extension following what is likely a late, mildly unexpected uptick in his performance may be a bad thing anyway and make the long term repercussions of this deal worse.
No matter what happens with Dempster, however, the Cubs can be happy with the return: a solid, young starting pitching prospect who may very well be — to use an over-used phrase — an important part of the next great Cubs team.
Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.
While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.
When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.
Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.
More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.
Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)
It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.