In some three hours, Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park. Typically, a home game against a demonstrably weak opponent like the Cubs — 42-60 on the season, and nearly 100 more runs allowed than scored — would allow fans a night of high expectations. Sure, anything can happen, but particularly after 11 straight games on the road, it would be nice to go into a game expecting a victory. With the opposing pitcher bringing in a 5.00 ERA, things just look straight up rosy this Tuesday night.
Wrong. This is no ordinary 5.00 ERA pitcher. This is Ryan Dempster. The man has thrown 176.1 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers, essentially an entire season’s worth. In these 176.1 innings, Milwaukee has only managed to plate 49 earned runs against him. That’s a 2.50 ERA, and whether it be with the Cubs, Marlins, or Reds, his offenses have supported him well enough to make it count. His record entering Tuesday’s game against Milwaukee sits at a pristine 15-3. Five times has he started a game and left without allowing an earned run; six more times he’s only allowed a single earned run. All of this comes in a mere 23 starts. Ryan Dempster has owned the Milwaukee Brewers.
I consider myself to be a rational baseball observer and a rational fan. I’m not swayed by small samples or streaks and the day-to-day craziness that define baseball as a sport when it comes to decisions or evaluations of the future. But as Albert Einstein said, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Every time the Brewers match up against Dempster, I expect them to hit him like a team of their quality should. Like one of the top 5-10 offenses in the league should. And seemingly every time, the same result. The Brewers are shut down, sent back to the dugout over and over again wondering what the hell happened.
Not this time. Despite everything in the Brewers’ favor — they’re at home, where the offense always shows up, the Cubs are awful, Chris Narveson has been pitching well of late — I know that Ryan Dempster is going to shut the Brewers down.
I don’t like sanity nearly as much as I thought I would. But sane people have been wrong before. And hopefully this newly sane person is wrong tonight.