Josh Heit's blog


Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Blogging inspiration: I figured I had nothing today. Nothing. Not even a trolling the blogosphere piece, because I haven't seen that much today, and I really couldn't care less about Gigli being a major flop. Then I saw this news item while checking my fantasy baseball team and panicking over Rich Aurilia's appendectomy.

Tommy John surgery for Dempster.

The Dempster in question is Ryan Dempster, fromer Florida stud pitcher who flamed out with the Reds. Given the injury track record of Florida pitchers (A.J. Burnett, Josh Beckett, etc.), I'm not surprised. I figured something was wrong with Dempster, I just didn't think it would require Tommy John surgery. I remember at the trading deadline, Peter Gammons tossed some cash on the BBTN desk and said he'd take Ryan Dempster. I said I'd sell him. I don't know what he'll be like after the surgery, but I'd assume worse than his hot start in Florida, but better than his ghastly pitching in Cincy (Sidenote: Who's got the worse arms in Cincy: the Reds or the Bengals?).

Let's go inside the numbers.

Start simple. Career numbers from ESPN.

After a career year in 2000, he slipped a bit in K/9 and K/BB in '01, but he still looked like a respectable pitcher. Even in Florida in '02, he wasn't too bad. The HR/IP rate was consistent throughout, about 1 HR/10 IP (and a little higher than that in 2000, offsetting the drops in K/9 and K/BB).

Then with Cincinnati in 2002, the HR jumps through the roof (16 in 88.2 IP?) and the K rate slips and the walk rate goes up. Same for '03, more slippage until, finally, a DL stint. Culprit? Probably fatigue on the young arm, a Florida specialty.

In 2000 and 2001, Dempster threw close to 3600 pitches. That cannot be healthy. Period. Looking at Kerry Wood, he only threw 2838 pitches in his rookie year, and then another 2390 in 2000 before his elbow snapped. Nowhere NEAR the level of Dempster stress. Some of that is probably mechanics (especially in Wood's case), but it's proven that extra innings create arm fatigue, which, if your mechnnics are screwed up from arm fatigue, will mess up a pitchers arm. There's no doubt in my mind that's what happened to Dempster. And instead of going on the DL and having a more routine surgery that might lose him 4 or 5 starts two years ago, he's now lost a year, maybe more, considering that he's probably been harboring the injury so long, it's totally screwed him up physically and mentally.

Peter, you can take Dempster. I'm not totally negative, now they know it's an injury, but I'm still not optimistic at all.


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