Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ryan Dempster and early season optimism

You couldn't really map out a better start to the season than the last two days. The Red Sox marched right into the Bronx and took the first two games of the season from the Yankees in decisive fashion in their own house. Jose Iglesias is outperforming expectations, going 5-for-9 with a double and an RBI in the first two games. Jackie Bradley Jr. has been on base four times, and has already knocked in his first RBIs (and his first major league hit), with four runs scored.

Both Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz each have a win to their name, and Ryan Dempster is preparing to make his Red Sox debut tonight. Though Dempster has struggled somewhat against the Yankees in his career, the sample size is rather small: just five starts in the last fourteen years.

Dempster is optimistic about his prospects, both in terms of tonight's game and the season as a whole:
“I’m thinking — I would love — my goal is 30 wins,” he said. “If I can get 30 wins, I”m going to take that. I won’t get greedy. I won’t get greedy, I won’t ask for 33 or 34, I’m just going to try to do that.”
Of course, Dempster has started more than thirty times just seven times in fifteen years (though, to be fair, he was a closer for a while mid-career). He seems to be meshing well with his new teammates, and it's impossible not to feel good when your team starts the season off 2-0.

Dempster will take the mound this evening against the 40-year-old Andy Pettitte, and with the Yankees' lineup as depleted as it's been, I feel somewhat confident about his chances to get his first Red Sox win.  It's been thirteen years since the Red Sox started off the season 2-0, when Pedro Martinez and Bret Saberhagen took down the Royals. In fact, the 1999 Red Sox won their first five games - maybe they're die for something like that again?

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