A few quick things this morning:
● Rather than blindly attempt to make a trenchant point about a start which I admittedly saw very little of, I'll make this more general observation about Ryan Dempster after he spun seven more massively successful innings (7.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 8 K, 1 BB, 0 HR) last night: yeah, his post-trade ERA (4.11) is both decidedly and unsurprisingly higher than that anomalous pre-trade ERA of his (2.25), but the thing that strikes me as curious is how his FIP (3.43 before the trade; 3.54 since then) and xFIP (3.73 before the trade; 3.66 since then) have both remained so steady despite the jump to a tougher league and ballpark, and how, peripherally speaking, he has continued to perform like a four-plus-win pitcher. The Rangers hoped that he would suffice as a fairly cheap Colby Lewis replacement, and they have not been disappointed.
One other thing that strikes me as a bit curious, though, are the suggestions (some tentative and some possibly faceituous) that Dempster should be deployed as the Rangers' Game 1 playoff starter, with some extra credibility being being wafted in the direction of that argument on the basis of Dempster being a "veteran" and such. The question you really have to look at closely when you're evaluating such matters as the post-season rotation is, "if the ALDS goes five games, who do I want on the mound twice?," given that your rotation in (hopefully) the following rounds is going to derive from how you set your ALDS rotation ... and, yeah, I'm quite pleased with how Dempster has been going, but unless a whole lot goes awry in the next few weeks, it's hard to imagine being able to feel better about Dempster as a potential two-game starter in the first round than either Matt Harrison or Yu Darvish.
● The primary story stemming from last night's game, of course, was the overcrowded Ballpark infirmary, as Adrian Beltre made an early exit after spraining his left shoulder on a second-inning dive (his status going forward remains unclear, as his MRI won't come back until Thursday), Josh Hamilton departed early with left knee soreness, and Mike Olt left in the seventh inning after another flareup of plantar fascitis; Mike Adams has also been dealing with a sore trapezoid muscle in his right shoulder that will require him to spend a few more days out of action (a problem which evidentally contributed to his struggles two nights ago), and Roy Oswalt continues to deal with right flexor muscle problems, although that's a less troubling matter given how far Oswalt's stock has fallen.
On the one hand, you loathe the thought of Beltre's white-hot rhythm at the plate possibly being interrupted by this setback, or the shoulder problem possibly turning out to be anything more than a trivial day-to-day matter -- but on the other hand, Beltre has been candid about not feeling as good this September as he did last September, and even though you really hate to see him sidelined for even a couple of games against his will, it's within the realm of possibility that Beltre's body needs this couple-day break to enhance the likelihood of him having enough left in the tank in October.
● Watching Joe Nathan close out Cleveland with relative ease in the ninth inning sent my mind drifting back to this early-July post, in which I outlined how the Rangers' bullpen was on pace for one of the greatest shutdown-to-meltdown ratios of any bullpen in recorded history. We're a couple months further down the line, and the potentially historic significance of this bullpen has receded a bit, but we're still looking at a situation where the best SD-to-MD ratio of any bullpen in the last 39 years belonged to the 1990 Athletics, with 3.2 shutdowns for every single meltdown ... and the Rangers, for their part, now sit at roughly 3.0 shutdowns for every single meltdown in 2012, a mark which stands out as the best in baseball at the moment. This bullpen isn't perfect, but it's awfully damn good when it counts.