Better fastball has Dempster tossing zeroes

Jerry Lai/US Presswire

Ryan Dempster extended his scoreless streak to 33 innings Saturday, passing R.A. Dickey for the longest streak in the majors this season.Ryan Dempster tossed six shutout innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks to run his scoreless streak to 33 innings, the longest in the majors this season.

5+ straight wins without allowing run
Single season since 1912

According to Elias, Dempster is the fifth pitcher in the last 100 years to win five straight starts in the same season without allowing a run.

Also from Elias, Dempster is the first Chicago Cubs starting pitcher to top 30 straight scoreless innings since Ken Holtzman in 1969. Like Dempster, Holtzman’s streak was 33 innings. The last longer streak for a Cubs starter was in 1938, when Bill Lee had streaks of 37 and 35 innings.

The season has turned around for the Cubs right-hander since the calendar flipped from May to June. In the first two months of the season, the Cubs went 2-7 in Dempster’s starts. During his scoreless-inning streak, the Cubs are 5-0 when he is on the mound.

The change in results has less to do with Dempster and more to do with the rest of the team. In the first two months, Dempster posted a 2.90 ERA but the Cubs only scored 2.9 runs per game. In the last five games, they have supported him with 6.4 runs per game.

Ryan Dempster Opponent BA This Season

During his scoreless streak, Dempster has given up a similar number of hits with the bases empty, but has really been tough to hit from the stretch. He has allowed just four hits in 46 at-bats with runners on base and just one hit in 28 at-bats with runners in scoring position.

He has improved his results with the fastball by relying on the pitch less frequently. In his last five starts, Dempster has thrown the fastball 49 percent of the time. During his first nine starts, he used the pitch 53 percent of the time.

Dempster has been able to keep the ball off the middle of the plate in his recent starts. Vertically, he has dropped the percentage of pitches over the middle third from 32 to 27 while increasing his number of high fastballs.

He is also throwing more inside fastballs, as that rate has jumped from 20 percent to 28 percent with an offsetting decrease of pitches over the middle third.

The change in results has been dramatic. Opponents hit .278 against his fastball in the first nine games but have hit just .154 against it since then. He has reduced the line-drive rate against the pitch from 27 percent to 11 percent while upping the groundball percent from 34 to 51.