Ryan Dempster continues to do wonders for his trade value. In his second start back after missing three weeks with a strained right lat muscle, Dempster tossed six shutout innings this afternoon as part of a 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. He now has a career-high 33-inning scoreless streak dating back to May 30 against the Padres.
Dempster’s scoreless streak is the longest in the majors this season, topping R.A. Dickey’s 32 2/3 inning streak from May 22-June 13. It’s also the longest scoreless streak by any Cubs’ pitcher since Ken Holtzman had a 33-inning scoreless streak of his own back in 1969.
Dempster, an impending free agent, currently leads the majors with a 1.86 ERA and has a solid 75/25 K/BB ratio across 92 innings. The 35-year-old has earned ten-and-five rights, so he has the ability to block any trade, but he has indicated that he’s willing to accept a deal in the right situation. The Dodgers have been mentioned frequently as a potential suitor.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.