Ryan Dempster and digging out of a hole

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Ryan Dempster has to be feeling pretty good about himself at this point.  He struck out 11 Friday in beating the Giants.  It was his third straight quality start, as he allowed a total of two runs in six innings.

And lowered his ERA to 6.71.

That’s how bad Dempster’s April was.  He gave up at least four runs in each of his six outings, culminating in a career low April 28 against the Dodgers.  In that meltdown, he was charged with seven runs in one-third of an inning, taking his ERA to 9.58.

Now the long trial to bring it down has begun.  He lowered it to 8.05 by holding the Dodgers to one run in seven innings on May 3.  On May 8, he gave up two runs over seven innings against the Reds, putting him at 7.20.  The margins keep getting smaller, though.  Friday’s win knocked him down only half a run.

Dempster finished last year with a 3.85 ERA in 215 1/3 innings. 

To finish that well this year, he’d have to give up 54 runs in 164 1/34 innings the rest of the way, a 2.96 mark.

In 2009, he came in at 3.65 in 200 IP.

To match that, he’d have to allow 43 runs in 149 innings, a 2.60 mark.

In 2008, Dempster came in at 2.96 over 206 2/3 innings.

That seems unreachable.  He’d have to pitch 155 2/3 innings at a 1.73 mark to duplicate that number.

Dempster is certainly on the right path now.  His 11 strikeouts Friday were his most since June 11, 2008.  His slider and, more inportantly, his confidence are back.

As for his numbers, well, they’ve got a ways to go.

Pirates activate Starling Marte

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Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.

Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.

In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.