Ryan Dempster has a bunch of relief experience from early in his career and has been mediocre at best as a starter this season, so the Red Sox are thinking about shifting him to the bullpen for the playoffs.
Dempster hasn’t relieved since closing for the Cubs in 2007, but told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com:
If I was asked to go down there I could help us out in a big way. I have confidence in my ability, confidence in the mental side of it. I’ve been there before. It’s fun. It’s a totally different animal. … I’ll do whatever role they ask me to pitch in. Whatever they ask me to do, I’m going to grab it by the horns and run with it.
That’s a good attitude to have, although even if the Red Sox do shift Dempster to the bullpen for the playoffs it’s possible he won’t be asked to fill a high-leverage role anyway. Dempster has a 4.64 ERA and 156/78 K/BB ratio in 169 innings this season, which is pretty terrible, and in his last two seasons as a reliever (2006 and 2007) he posted a combined 4.76 ERA and 122/66 K/BB ratio in 142 innings.
Starter or reliever, if the Red Sox are forced to rely on Dempster getting key outs in the playoffs something probably went awry with their plans.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.