CHICAGO, IL - MAY 08: Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs is congratulated by Ryan Dempster #46 after making a diving catch in the fourth inning against the Atlanta Braves on May 8, 2012 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
Forty title qualifiers have ERA's 2.75 or lower. All 40 of them have won at least once this season.
All except one: Ryan Dempster, who also happens to sport the lowest ERA in the majors: 1.02. Dempster has given up four earned runs in 35⅓ innings, over five starts.
- April 5 vs. Nationals - Dempster out-pitched Stephen Strasburg. Dempster gave up one run in 7⅔ innings, striking out 10 Nationals, while Strasburg gave up one run in seven innings, striking out only five Cubs. Dempster got a no-decision as Carlos Marmol lost in the ninth when Ian Desmond's two-out single plated with the game's third and final run.
- April 11 vs. Brewers - Dempster's worst start of the season. He gave up a couple of runs in the seventh inning, both coming on George Kottaras's two-run home run. Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo held the Cubs to just one run, and relievers Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings.
- April 17 vs. Marlins - Another no-decision. Dempster gave up two runs in six innings, but both were unearned thanks to ... well, thanks to Ryan Dempster's throwing error. He's got only himself to blame for that one. But it was still 2-2 in the eighth when reliever Rafael Dolis gave up three runs. Not that it affected Dempster's record; he was already out of the game and off the hook, either way.
- May 3 vs. Reds - After a two-week stint on the DL with a quad injury, Dempster returned to the mound and made his best start of the season: eight shutout innings. It didn't do him any good. The Cubs did lead 3-0 after eight innings, but it was another no-decision for Dempster as first Marmol and then Dolis gave up the lead and finally the game.
- May 8 vs. Braves - Tuesday night, Dempster pitched another good one: seven innings, seven strikeouts, one walk, one run. To no avail, because it was 1-1 after seven innings and reliever Kerry Wood gave up two runs in the eighth (and threw a little tantrum, too).
So that's where we are now, with Dempster scheduled to start against the Brewers and Gallardo on Sunday afternoon in Chicago.
Of course, Dempster's not been the only unlucky pitcher this season. Just the unluckiest.
Carlos Zambrano's just 1-2 despite a 1.98 ERA in what's otherwise been a wonderful comeback season. And before you start talking about the ex-Cub factor ... aw hell, go ahead and talk about it.
Barry Zito's just 1-1 despite a 2.21 ERA ... but it's hard to argue he's been generally unlucky, considering he's walked nearly as many hitters as he's struck out. He's pretty lucky to have a 2.21 ERA.
Jordan Zimmermann's 1-3 despite a 2.29 ERA. Matt Cain's 1-2 despite a 2.38 ERA, but that's probably because if Matt Cain ever got any run support, he'd probably suffer a month-long panic attack or something.