Being picked as the Opening Day starter, as the number one, it’s implied that the pitcher in question is that pitching staff’s ace. So when Quade picked Ryan Dempster, fans reacted. It seemed pretty split. Some like the idea of solid guy Demp taking the lead; others felt that he wasn’t even close to ace material.
The latter group was vindicated in April when he struggled so badly. When he made his disasterous start in Arizona in which he couldn’t get out of the first innign and ended up giving up something like seven runs, people called for his blood. While they ripped him, I was genuinely concerned.
I was worried.
Nothing about Demp looked right that night. Even his glove wiggle was wrong. I was afraid he was broken. I thought we wer goign to lose another pitcher to the DL. I didn’t know what it was, but I was sure something was seriously wrong.
But it was nothing.
Demp worked May like April never happened. That’s something I’ve always liked about him. He can forget the bad innings and bad games quickly. I’ve watched him have one lousy inning and then come back out the next like it was an entirely new ballgame.
His first start in June had shades of April. His start last Wednesday agains the Reds, though, was pure ace.
Nursing a sore hip, his ability to push off the rubber somewhat limited, throwing in 90-plus degree heat, Demp battled to lead his ravaged team to a badly needed win.
Okay, that’s a bit dramatic.
But there’s still something to be said for a guy who looks at his limping team, looks at his beat up bullpen, and despite hurting says, “I got this”. He had a rough first inning, but battled through it. He threw 113 pitches, limited the Reds to one run through six, but to hear thim talk about it, he acts like he didn’t do enough.
He was the same way after shutting out the red-hot Brewers Monday night. As far as he was concerned, he just did his job. He gave the credit away to Barney, Pena, and Ramirez.
And Pena gave it right back. After that start in Cincy, Pena called Dempster a warrior. I think that’s a good call. Just looking at his career you can see that he’s battled.
Warrior is appropriate. But as far as I’m concerned, Ace works just as well, too. Maybe he technically doesn’t have the stuff to be considered an ace, but he definitely has the attitude.