Heading into Tuesday night’s game, there was reason to believe maybe, just maybe, the Brewers had figured out Ryan Dempster. The 2.75 career ERA against the Crew in 26 starts (48 appearances) is daunting, but in his last three starts against Milwaukee, Dempster had allowed 10 runs over 16.2 innings — a massive 5.40 ERA.
Such hope dissipated swiftly. Dempster mowed through the Brewers order for five innings, taking a perfect game through the first batter of the sixth inning. Cody Ransom’s single was just one of three hits off Dempster in seven innings. The righty’s game score of 74 marks as his fifth best in his career against the Brewers and fourth best as a member of the Cubs — all four featuring at least seven shutout innings.
Perhaps part of the issue is a Brewers lineup that has perennial been somewhat susceptible to tough right-handed pitching — Prince Fielder is the only elite left-handed bat the club has sported since Dempster began starting regularly for the Cubs in 2008. This year’s squad is no different, hitting .234/.306/.403 against right-handers and .257/.338/.424 against lefties. And Dempster has his own, similar splits: .244/.315/.381 against righties, .278/.375/.446 against lefties. In all likelihood, this is why Dempster spent so much of his time as a reliever despite the productive career he has enjoyed in the rotation: most teams can stack a lineup with lefties to beat (or at least threaten) him.
But not the Brewers. And so with as extreme a right-handed Brewers team as ever — Nyjer Morgan sat for Carlos Gomez, leaving just the atypical Norichika Aoki and struggling Taylor Green as the Brewers’ lefty bats — Dempster enjoyed more of the same success that helped him create this Brewer-killer narrative from 2008 to 2011. Unless the Brewers get some more help from the left side, they can probably expect more of the same next time around, too.