D.J. Short

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Dempster's Disastrous Debut

Friday, August 03, 2012

One wonders whether Ryan Dempster is already having second thoughts about accepting a trade to the Rangers rather than the Braves or another National League club. The veteran right-hander received a rude welcome to the American League in his Rangers' debut on Thursday night, giving up a season-high eight runs on nine hits (including two home runs) and three walks over just 4 2/3 innings as part of a no-decision against the Angels. The poor outing caused his season ERA to jump from 2.25 all the way up to 2.82.

To be fair, some regression for Dempster was probably inevitable, regardless of whether he accepted a trade to the Rangers, Dodgers, Braves or elsewhere. Coming into Thursday's outing, the veteran right-hander had a .242 batting average on balls in play and an 84 percent strand rate. Both are well outside his career norms and league averages. The concerning part is that he's now pitching in the American League and will make half of his starts in one of the game's most hitter-friendly ballparks.

Fantasy owners would have been wise to sell high on Dempster a while ago, but I still think he'll be relevant in most mixed leagues the rest of the way. The Rangers still have a powerhouse offense, even after a subpar July, so the run support should be there. They certainly bailed him out Thursday by scoring 15 runs. And don't forget that the Rangers' divisional foes all play in pitcher-friendly home ballparks, so there are still some appealing matchup plays here. But those expecting some sort of rotation savior down the stretch will probably be disappointed.

Introducing Dan

We live in an age where every prospect is tracked and scrutinized from the moment they sign with a professional team. That's what makes Dan Straily's meteoric rise so refreshing.

Straily was a 24th-round pick of the A's back in 2009. He put up solid numbers from 2009-2011, but wasn't even ranked among the organization's top 30 prospects by Baseball America coming into this season. However, the 23-year-old right-hander posted a 3.38 ERA and 108/23 K/BB ratio over his first 14 starts with Double-A Midland this season before being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento in June. He actually saw better results upon arriving to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, registering a dominant 1.36 ERA and 67/14 K/BB ratio in eight starts while holding opposing batters to a .147 batting average. His 175 strikeouts lead all of baseball, including major league hurlers.

The second-place A's are clearly trying to catch lightning in a bottle here, as they have called up Straily to make his major league debut Friday against the Blue Jays. Straily isn't going to blow people away at 100 mph, he sits pretty consistently in the 92-94 mph range with his fastball and his changeup and slider are both considered above average offerings. Things could get pretty crowded in Oakland's starting rotation once Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson are ready to return from the disabled list, but Straily is well worth a look in most formats for now.

Welcome Back, Werth

Jayson Werth was finally activated from the disabled list for Thursday's game against the Phillies, nearly three months after he underwent surgery to repair a fractured left wrist. Werth started in center field and batted sixth in his return, finishing the night 1-for-3 with an RBI ground out and a walk.

Werth was a complete bust last year in the first year of his seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals, but he was off to a nice start this season prior to the injury, batting .276/.372/.439 with three home runs, 12 RBI and an .810 OPS in 113 plate appearances. It will be interesting to see whether the wrist has an impact on his power the rest of the way, but he should be owned in more than 55 percent of Y! and 50.1 percent of ESPN.com leagues.

NL Quick Hits: Joey Votto (knee) fielded grounders Thursday without a knee brace, but his return has been ruled out this weekend … Giancarlo Stanton (knee) homered and drove in four runs Thursday in his first rehab game with High-A Jupiter … Jose Reyes tripled Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 20 games, matching a career-best … Ryan Zimmerman (back) went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored in his return to action Thursday … Cole Hamels gave up three runs over seven innings Thursday in a loss to the Nationals … Yadier Molina missed Thursday's game with a sprained right thumb and is scheduled to undergo X-rays on Friday … Rafael Furcal (back) missed his fifth straight game Thursday … R.A. Dickey is still expected to be used on short rest in the coming weeks … Todd Frazier homered and drove in three runs in Thursday's win over the Padres and now has 13 homers and 40 RBI through 78 games this season … Adam LaRoche launched his 20th home run of the season in Thursday's win over the Phillies … Lance Berkman is scheduled to have his right knee examined Friday after it buckled on him during Thursday's game … Josh Rutledge homered in his fourth straight game Thursday … Ross Detwiler allowed just three hits over seven shutout frames in Thursday's win over the Phillies …The Diamondbacks released Scott Podsednik after he refused an assignment to Triple-A Reno …

AL Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton showed some signs of busting out of his prolonged slump by knocking in four runs in Thursday's win over the Angels … David Ortiz (Achilles) said Thursday's that he's at about "50 to 60 percent" and acknowledged that he's likely three or four days away from doing "power running" drills … C.J. Wilson was tagged for a season-high eight runs in a no-decision Thursday against the Angels … Carlos Santana homered in Thursday's loss to the Royals and is hitting .302 (19-for-63) with six homers and 16 RBI since the All-Star break … Dan Haren (back) made it through a bullpen session Thursday with no issues and will start Sunday against the White Sox … Josh Beckett (back) was unable to throw a bullpen session Thursday and is considered questionable to start Sunday against the Twins … Jon Lester allowed three runs over seven innings in a tough-luck loss to the Twins on Thursday … Coco Crisp (hamstring) went 0-for-5 in his return to the lineup Thursday … Mike Olt started at first base Thursday in his major league debut against the Angels and went 1-for-3 with a run scored. He's expected to see at-bats at first base and DH against left-handed pitching … Brandon Morrow (oblique) is scheduled to make his second rehab start Friday with High-A Dunedin … Bartolo Colon blanked the Blue Jays over eight innings Thursday … Seth Smith left Thursday's game against the Blue Jays with a strained left hamstring and is scheduled for an MRI on Friday … The Red Sox and Orioles are among the teams who could have interest in acquiring the recently-DFA'd Derek Lowe … 

D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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