Ryan Dempster willing to serve as playoff reliever for Red Sox

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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.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.