We've already brushed up on this guy and I wasn't overly impressed. Dempster is a solid pitcher, but one that's emminently beatable. I re-watched out at bats via the magic (and curse) of MLB.tv and the first thing I noticed were the key double plays. They were traumatizing to the offense. The first inning featured 5 base runners, none of whom scored. 4 of them were put away via the DP. And we're not talking the lucky-look-who-snared-a-line-drive sort. Dempster is good at inducing key groundballs. Or, I suppose, maybe he's lucky?
The one thing I know helped him out was this:
That's a wide zone that really helps to set up both the fastball inside and the slider away. While we did a good job laying off the slider, the fastball under the hands consistently got hit on the ground until, approximately, the 6th or so. That featured the first really driven flyball. Liners and flies were damn near absent the entire game and it speaks to what Dempster was able to do to us. He's always going to have runners on base thanks to the Cubs' middle infield issues. Theriot scares no one but Cubs fans and DeRosa is a good hitter and...yeah, he's a good hitter. But it was also clear that, despite getting 24/30 first pitch strikes, Dempster likes to make hitters get themselves out. He runs the ball in and out just off the strikezone with all of his pitches and looks for hitters to expand the zone. Despite that, he never went full in any count (as I saw it). We have to be willing to take the backward K with runners on base, honestly. A 3-2 count is fairly empowering, even with a pitcher in command of his stuff.
So can we solve him this time around? I think, for one, he'll have a slightly more difficult time getting that consistently ahead. For two, they've seen the fastball, have the book on him as well as experience. That should count for something. I also don't expect such a terrible game from Swish, who was baffled by the inside fastball. He took a ton of them and seemingly was thisclose to pulling the trigger on one of them. AJ had a similarly awful day. Thome was gone. Having that trio of lefties on their game should make for a far more successful day at the plate for the Good Guys.