Ryan Dempster last pitched in a professional baseball game in 2013. He then decided to walk away and leave money on the table rather than keep playing, wrapping up a very respectable career at age 36 after 16 years in the majors. But now, nearing his 40th birthday, he decided to give the game a try one more time by pitching for his native Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
His first assignment after a few years away from baseball? Eh, just the best damn lineup in the tournament—like, by a long shot.
The heart of that Dominican lineup is about as much of a murderer’s row as you’re ever going to get in a tournament like this one, and Dempster did... not at all good, in any sense of the word, but probably a little better than you might have expected! He put Team Canada in a hole quickly—giving up four runs off of seven hits and a walk in just two innings is obviously not a good line—but all things considered, he could have at least looked a lot worse. His velocity was a tiny bit higher than it was when he retired (sitting low 90s tonight, compared to high 80s a few years ago), there wasn’t a ton of hard contact here aside from a lone dinger to Welington Castillo, and really, this was perhaps all that Canada could reasonably ask from him facing a lineup like this after more than three years away from any sort of organized baseball.
Now we wait for the chance to see Dempster’s teammate and fellow comeback-hopeful Eric Gagne get his shot.