Trading for Ryan Dempster today would be fortuitous for the Dodgers.
Dempster could realistically join his new team (playing on the road in New York) by Saturday and replace the Dodgers’ weakest link in its rotation, Nathan Eovaldi (1-6) 4.33 ERA, who’s scheduled to start the series finale against the Mets on Sunday.
Dempster, of course, shut the Mets down two starts ago going five shutout innings on a limited pitch-count in his return from the 15-day DL recovering from a sore lat muscle.
Chad Billingsley, recovering from an inflamed right elbow, is scheduled to make his return from the 15-day DL against the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday. This sets up a formidable threesome in the Dodgers rotation of Dempster, Billingsley & Clayton Kershaw (followed by Harang & Capuano).
The Sunday rotation spot also gives Dempster a favorable pitching schedule. He’d quickly be baptized into the always heated Dodgers vs. Giants rivalry in his next start at San Francisco before making his Dodgers home debut vs. Arizona, who Demps made quick work of over 6.0 shutout innings last Saturday at Wrigley Field.
The most appealing start, however, would be Dempster’s third outing with L.A.–a possible home game against none other than his former mates, the Cubs.
WHAT’S TAKING SO LONG?
The Cubs are asking the family farm for Dempster and have the leverage to do so while holding several of the top trade chips on the market.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, are in a position to win now, but haven’t come to terms with sacrificing the future for the present. And in this case, it’s bright young pitching prospects in the Dodgers’ system Team Theo is eyeballing.
The Dodgers appear to have a good number of quality young arms, but what the Dodgers truly need more than Dempster, or any pitcher for that matter, is a run producer in its lineup to compliment Matt Kemp.
Los Angeles ranks 14/16 in runs scored in the National League. They’ve played the most one-runs games in the majors this season (36) and are certain to fall out of the race unless they find offensive help, particularly at first base where James Loney is batting a paltry .245 with 2 HR, 25 RBI.
Bryan LaHair would seem the ideal candidate to be packaged with Dempster, but the first time All Star has struggled since mid June watching his average plummet 27-points, including just 2 home runs over his last 22 games.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the back-and-forth in the negotiations revolves around who else are the Cubs willing to part with in addition to Dempster. It could be someone like Darwin Barney, a shortstop by trade, who could replace the Dodgers injured shortstop, Dee Gordon, who’s been out since July 5 with torn ligament in his thumb and is batting a lowly .229 with a .288 OBP.
The Dodgers unquestionably have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball. As of yesterday, Los Angeles ranked second in the majors in both team ERA (3.29) and opponents’ batting average (.236), trailing only the Nationals in both categories (3.16, .232).
Add Dempster to the mix and the Dodgers have a stellar chance at storming through the NL playoffs–if they can score enough runs to get there.
Dempster’s good friend, Ted Lilly, is currently on the 60-day DL with a sore pitching elbow, but is expected to return this season and should provide a clutch plan-B if another member of the starting staff is lost during September.
As for the business side, the Dodgers new ownership is in position to offer Dempster a lucrative contract following the season in what will appear to be the final contract for the 35-year-old right-hander.
The clock’s ticking for Los Angeles; in the Dempster sweepstakes and the postseason. The question is will there ever be a better day than this one to trade for Dempster?