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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 1:24 PM

Ryan Dempster was traded this week from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers just in time to join the American League pennant race. His debut will come TONIGHT in a huge game against the Los Angeles Angels that has both AL West and Wildcard implications.

How is Dempster likely to perform for the Rangers? He was the ace of the Cubs staff the past few years…and he’s been having a terrific 2012 season thus far. Given the pitching woes for Texas…

Lewis out for the year

Perez out for the year

Ogando relegated to the bullpen for health reasons

Oswalt demoted to the bullpen

Darvish slumping badly

Dempster is basically the good guy wrestler running to the ring to save the day after Mean Mr. Injury has been bullying the team.

Unfortunately, it’s far from a sure thing that Dempster is going to be a big plus for the Rangers.

*The National League is MUCH inferior to the American League. That’s been true for about seven or eight years now. And, the AL was dominant this year in Interleague play with a 142-110 record. We’ve seen several AL pitchers move to the NL and have success. It’s much tougher to move the other direction and do well.

*Texas plays its home games in a hitting paradise. You’ve seen that this week in the series with the Angels. But, if you’ve been following baseball for any length of time, this should be obvious to you. Dempster isn’t just moving to a much superior league…he’s moving to the toughest stadium for pitchers in that much superior league.

*Dempster didn’t fare well in the NL hitters’ parks during his time in the NL. His career ERA in Colorado is 10.93 (10 appearances, 6 starts), and his career ERA in Arizona is 7.90 (11 appearances, 10 starts). Those aren’t big sample sizes. But, those are lousy performances in the best stadium matches for Arlington.

*Dempster hasn’t pitched in a truly pressure game for years. The Cubs have been pretty horrible during his tenure. Pitching for the Cubs is a “professional” position that doesn’t have much to do with contending for anything that matters. Dempster is about to face REAL pressure for the first time in ages…and he’s going to be doing that in front of a fan base that is expecting instant heroic results.

We’re not suggesting that a disaster is imminent. Dempster won’t be pitching all of his games at home. And, he’ll have the element of surprise going for him in most “first look” situations down the stretch. Still, Rangers fans who are thinking the team has acquired a new staff ace may be in for a disappointment. They’ve basically “called up” a guy from “Quadruple A” who has a chance to contribute important innings, but is also a gamble because he’s stepping up in class to a high pressure situation.

Be sure you study Dempster tonight in his Rangers debut against the Angels. This whole AL West race is worth staying on top of because LAA and Oakland are in the thick of the Wildcard battle…and either could chase down Texas from behind if the Rangers don’t stop treading water in what have been choppy conditions the past six weeks.

It’s been mostly smooth sailing for our VSM handicappers in baseball recently, and all season. Thursday’s highlights:

*Jim Hurley is 24-8 the last 16 days, and has four-days remaining on his Hit and Run Showcase. Pay just $35 to lock yourself in for the best plays on the board Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Use powerhouse baseball to build your bankroll for the start of the NFL Preseason this Sunday Night!

*Jim Feist has posted a very strong Over/Under play for Thursday action. His 20-Star Diamond Dominator total play is yours for just $20. Sometimes the strongest option on the card is an Over/Under play that’s helped by stadium conditions, home plate umpire tendencies, and how a pitcher’s stuff matches up against the opposing offense. Don’t miss this Total terror!

*Kelso Sturgeon has a very special 100-Unit Power Play in tonight’s action on sale for only $35. You’ve seen the potency of these 100-Unit bombshells in recent weeks. Nobody can win them all…but Kelso wins more than anybody else!

Big play announcements are always posted well in advance on the home page here at VSM, with expanded details available on the “Buy Picks” pulldown page. Football bulletins will begin shortly, as the NFL Preseason starts Sunday Night when Arizona plays New Orleans in the Hall of Fame game. Make VSM your daily home for Las Vegas sports betting information EVERY DAY year round.

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