Ryan Dempster starts Sunday in Florida, looking to give the Cubs a series win against the Marlins. He'll face Chris Volstad (more on the Marlin's rookie here) in a game that gets underway just after noon CT.
Dempster's adventurous days as Cubs closer have come to an end in 2008, as he's proven his ability to start games hasn't gone away during his tenure in the bullpen, but, improbably, has improved.
A key aspect to Dempster's resurgence, and subsequent fringe Cy Young candidacy, has been impressive stamina. His lake front jogs in 2007 were too much for the training staff to join, and his extra-curricular runs in Arizona this Spring were impressive, despite my failure to take it all seriously. (Update The New York Times has more tales of Demp's work-outs. The stuff @ Red Rocks is serious insanity.)
As pitch classifications are pretty fluid with me, I have been trying to nail down Dempster. He feeds off a four-seam/slider combo, but has a splitter, which can be his best pitch, and a straight-change.
He doesn't throw a lot of change-ups, but, they're in there.
Looking at home games only is easier, and be sure to click the images for a larger version.
The aggregate spin movement clarifies things, and the flight paths show why things aren't clear to hitters.
While he relies mostly on the fastball/slider combo to righties, Dempster is able to mix it up against lefties, which is a big part of making him a quality starter.
Note the number of pitches thrown while ahead to lefties. For right-handed pitchers, that is typically less than the number of pitches thrown while behind. Dempster is clearly a tougher guy to face than a lot of folks gave him credit for. Myself included.