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Why Braves Need Ryan Dempster

By bullpenbrian at 07.24.2012 Leave a comment.

The Cubs & Braves await the approval of Ryan Dempster to complete a trade that sends top-pitching prospect Randall Delgado to Chicago in exchange for the 35-yr-old right-hander, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

It’s no lock Dempster will approve the deal, as we found out Monday, and is listed as a 50-50 chance by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

I’m fully aware I’m putting the cart before the horse, but let’s take a look at how Dempster could greatly improve Atlanta’s rotation, assuming he approves the trade.

It’s imperative the Braves find a solution to its starting pitching troubles if they’re to remain in the playoff hunt, and explains why the club has set its sights on landing Dempster.

Atlanta’s starting staff is near the bottom of the National League in several key pitching categories.

  • Innings Pitched (554.2): 13/16 NL
  • Starter’s ERA (4.32): 14/16 NL
  • WHIP (1.33): 14/16 NL
  • Walks (208): 15/16 NL

The inconsistencies with the rotation has put tremendous stress on what’s been a rather productive bullpen taxing its relievers for 301.2 innings–the second most in the NL.

The real kicker was losing starter Brandon Beachy (5-5, 2.00 ERA), who landed on the DL June 17 and underwent season ending Tommy John surgery four days later.

Aside from Tommy Hanson (10-5, 4.50 ERA) and Tim Hudson (8-4, 3.70 ERA) there’s been little support from the rotation elsewhere. Mike Minor, Jair Jurrgens and Randall Delgado are a combined (12-20) in 45 starts.

Former Brewer Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00 ERA) entered the fold in mid-June having made two impressive starts of six shutout innings against both the Mets & Nationals. But of course, there’s no telling how long the oft injured 34-yr-old will hold-up physically.

Should Dempster approve the trade, he would likely arrive in Atlanta by Thursday, a scheduled off-day for the Braves, as the team prepares for a 10-game homestand against Philadelphia, Miami & Houston.

With Hudson and Hanson scheduled to start Tuesday & Wednesday at Miami, Dempster could likely make his first start for Atlanta on Friday night against the Phillies, exactly one week after his last Cubs outing in St. Louis.

On that schedule Dempster’s following starts would come at home against the Marlins, then back-to-back road outings against the Phillies and Mets before returning home to face the Dodgers, who balked at its attempt last week to trade for Dempster despite his preference for a trade to Los Angeles.

I’ll avoid looking any further ahead until the trade comes to pass or is terminated, but it’s clear the Braves need starting pitching depth whether they land Dempster or not.

Atlanta’s 2-1 loss against Miami on Monday dropped the team 4.5 games back of Washington and a 0.5 game out of a Wild Card spot behind Pittsburgh & Los Angeles.

Without Dempster’s approval soon, the Braves could find themselves out of the playoff picture for good.

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