BOSTON — Ryan Dempster hasn’t pitched in relief since 2007. His next appearance with the Red Sox will come out of the bullpen, though.
John Farrell announced Friday that Dempster will pitch out of the bullpen for the remainder of the season. The move comes as no surprise, and it all but confirms that Boston’s playoff rotation will consist of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey and Jake Peavy, with the exact order yet to be announced.
Dempster served as the Cubs’ closer from 2005 through 2007. The 36-year-old won’t serve in that capacity with the Red Sox — who have a closer named Koji Uehara stifling the competition — but he also won’t be just an innings eater, according to Farrell. Dempster could find himself in high-leverage situations by the end of the regular season.
Dempster has made 225 relief appearances during his 16-year career, and he owns a 4.11 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in those appearances. It’s difficult to rely too much on those numbers given how long it’s been since Dempster pitched in such a role, but Farrell admitted that experience did play a factor in his decision.
“Compared to someone who hasn’t, it’s a huge advantage,” Farrell said. “As is his attitude, that’s probably the biggest thing that stood out to me in meeting with him. He sees the reason for it, understands there was a need to trim back by one starter and he’s looking forward to the opportunity.”
Dempster called pitching in relief a “totally different animal,” but expressed confidence in his ability to adapt to such a role.