At this writing, the Los Angeles Dodgers remain the frontrunners to receive Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, so long as the two sides can agree on the prospects the Dodgers would send in a deal.
The Atlanta Braves are said to be backing away from trying to land the righthander, who was said to have expressed a preference to go to Los Angeles. (Sidebar: Dempster is said to be close to another Dodger pitcher, Ted Lilly, from Lilly’s days with the Cubs.) The Washington Nationals are also thought to be interested in Dempster, since they’re thought to be looking to shore up their rotation in light of the pending Stephen Strasburg shutdown.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted earlier today that the Dempster deal may be closer to getting done: the Cubs reportedly called up an unidentified minor league pitcher to meet them in St. Louis in the event Dempster is gone in a trade Saturday. Dempster was pulled early from his recent start against the Pittsburgh Pirates and seemed none too happy about that move. Dempster’s 33-inning scoreless streak was stopped by the St. Louis Cardinals with a three-run first inning a week ago.
On the other hand, Matt Garza isn’t going anywhere before the trade deadline: that triceps trouble he reported when coming out of his start last weekend turns out to be fluid on the triceps, meaning he won’t be pitching before the non-waiver deadline. Garza was already excused from the Cubs’ road trip to be with his wife, who’s expecting a child.
MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE JUNGLE . . .
OH, HARVEY!—Last weekend, top New York Mets prospect (number one draft in 2010) Matt Harvey got murdered in Buffalo. Thursday: In the middle of a mild Mets shakeup involving a couple of demoted pitchers and a demoted outfielder, Harvey made his first major league start and busted the Mets’ franchise record for punchouts in his Show premiere. He dispatched eleven in five and a third to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 3-1 the final. Harvey even picked up a couple of base hits (a double and a single), becoming the first pitcher since 1900 to whiff ten or more and get a couple of knocks in his premiere. (Harvey’s bat impressed the Snakes: “If things don’t work out as a pitcher,” said Miguel Montero, who had one of the three hits Harvey surrendered, “he should become a hitter.”) Harvey broke the team record for premiere punchouts shared by Tom Seaver (in 1967) and Bill Denehy (three days after Seaver turned the trick), each of whom whiffed eight in his premiere.
Trivia: Denehy, once a touted lefthanded prospect, tied Seaver while losing to the Philadelphia Phillies, pitching well enough to win (two runs) despite six walks. (He also shared a 1967 Topps rookie card with Seaver.) Denehy proved a very hard luck story for the 1967 Mets; he didn’t win his first major league game until he’d lost four and received two no-decisions in two relief appearances, and in all but one of those six games he pitched well enough to have won. He finally beat the Atlanta Braves 28 May 1967, opening a doubleheader, but went on to lose three more starts and otherwise work from the bullpen; in his bullpen gigs he looked like he might really be more of a good relief candidate. Denehy was sent back to the minors that June.
If he’s remembered at all today (he rarely appeared in the majors again until he retired after 1971), Bill Denehy is remembered as the man the Mets sent (with $100,000) to the Washington Senators in exchange for manager Gil Hodges—who’d been traded to the Senators from the Mets in the first place, in early 1963, to become the Senators’ manager.
NOT THAT YOU ASKED . . . but the Dodgers are 0-2 since acquiring Hanley Ramirez from the Miami Marlins this week, though it isn’t exactly Ramirez’s fault: he’s 2-for-6 (.300) with three walks, a theft, and an RBI in the two games; the Cardinals waxed the Dodgers 7-4 Thursday behind an eighteen-hit attack including three each from David Freese and Matt Carpenter . . . Washington just pulled up even with the Empire Emeritus as having baseball’s best record thus far, Edwin Jackson throwing seven scoreless and Steve Lombardozzi’s three-run triple leading the Nats to an 8-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers Thursday . . . and, the Houston Astros—named as the team to be named later to complete the deal that sent the Brewers to the National League in the first place—lost their tenth straight, the Pirates getting past them, 5-3, while their own prospect tout, Starling Marte, launched his Show life just right when he parked the first major league pitch he saw over the left center field fence—the first Pirate to hit his first major league pitch out since Walter Mueller in 1922.