The Red Sox signed righthander Ryan Dempster to a two-year, $26.5 million contract based largely on his reliability. The 36-year-old has thrown 200 or more innings seven times in his career, four times in the last five seasons.
Their belief was that if Dempster maintained that level of consistency, he would be a productive No. 3 starter.
Dempster has done his part. He and Jon Lester are the only Sox starters to make all of their starts this season and his 89.1 innings are second on the team.
“He’s the pitcher we fully anticipated when we signed him,” Sox manager John Farrell said.
But the expected success hasn’t followed. Dempster pitched effectively for six innings on Wednesday night, putting the Sox in a position to win. But the result was a 6-2 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays before a crowd of 35,710 at Fenway Park.
Dempster is 4-8 and the Sox are 6-9 in the games he has started. The Sox are 16 games over .500 in games starter by Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey.
“I just wish we were winning more of the games that I’m starting,” Dempster said. “That’s all I care about, is the day I pitch that we win and we’re not winning those right now.”
Wednesday marked the 11th time the Sox have scored three or less runs with Dempster on the mound. This from a team averaging just over five runs a game.
“Seemingly there’s a guy on each staff that might be pitching on the wrong day,” Farrell said. “That’s probably been the case with Ryan on a few occasions. But that’s something completely out of his control. But yet at the same time we’re in position to win most every time he walks to the mound.”
The Sox lost for only the third time in 12 games against the Rays this season. Tampa Bay had 15 hits and won for the first time in six games at Fenway this season.
Dempster’s experience tells him his record will even out over time if he continues to pitch deep into games.
“That’s the hope, you know? Or pitch even better. Make better pitches,” he said. “The games that are in the past are in the past.”