Traded on Tuesday in exchange for Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach third baseman Christian Villanueva and right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, Dempster will make his first start in the American League, and it's not going to come easy, as he'll be facing one of the Rangers' competitors for the AL West crown, the Angels.
In his last outing with the Cubs on July 25, Dempster gave up three runs on five hits, two of them home runs, in six innings in a 3-2 loss to the Pirates. The only time he pitched in Arlington came in 2007, when he struck out the side in a save for the Cubs.
In 16 starts as the ace of the struggling Cubs this season, Dempster was 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA. Now he's the ace of a first-place team, though he doesn't necessarily see it that way.
"I'm just going to go out there and try to eat up as many innings as I can," Dempster said. "You don't have to light up a radar gun to do that. I work really hard, and I'm ready for this stretch to throw as many innings as I possibly can. If guys want advice, they'll ask for it, but I'm just here to learn as much as they do."
Dempster will also be in charge of stopping the bleeding for the Rangers, who have allowed 31 runs to the second-place Angels in the first three games of this four-game series. And though he is pitching in the AL for the first time in his career, he said the advantage of facing someone for the first time is in his favor just as much as the hitter's.
"At the end of the day, if you just make good, quality pitches and put the ball in the right spot, I think that's going to get any Major League hitter out," Dempster said. "That's going to be kind of my focus. It works the other way, too. A lot of the hitters in the American League haven't faced me before. Hopefully that can work to my advantage as well."
Angels: Wilson's tricks to beat the Texas heat
Angels Thursday starter C.J. Wilson is no stranger to the Texas heat. He pitched seven seasons as a member of the Rangers and had his ways of dealing with the 100-plus degree temperatures in the dead of summer.
To him, a lot of remaining cool in the heat is about being in shape and conserving energy.
"If you need to throw 40 pitches to warm up, in the heat you probably need to throw 28," Wilson said. "You can do about 75 percent, or sometimes even 60 percent of the same, in terms of making the amount of throws and the amount of pitches because you get warmed up much faster. So in that sense, you save bullets. I think it's healthier for your arm to pitch in the heat than it is to pitch in cold weather."
Not only is Wilson trying to do his best to stay effective in the heat, but he's trying to see if he can make it a little tougher on his opposing pitcher, as well.
"You can run him down if he's not used to it," Wilson said. "That's the reason why I run off the field, I try to speed up the game a little bit. It's kind of like college basketball, where you see teams that will full-court press right out of the game because they're in better shape, and then in the last 10 minutes of the game the other team folds."
Rangers: Feliz has successful Tommy John surgery
Rangers right-handed starter Neftali Feliz had successful Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Wednesday and will miss the remainder of this season. He could return next summer.
Feliz was placed on the disabled list on May 21 with right elbow inflammation and was scheduled to make a fourth rehab start on Sunday for Triple-A Round Rock before the Rangers announced he would require season-ending surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
He was 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA in eight appearances, including seven starts, this season.
"It's hard, but it's not impossible," Feliz said of the rehab process. "It makes you feel bad, but there's nothing you can do about it. It has to be what it has to be. I just have to follow my rehab and try to get ready the best way."
Despite the Rangers' walk-off win on Wednesday, the Angels lead the 2012 season series 7-5 and have outscored the Rangers 44-26 in the last five games.
The Rangers' lead in the American League West now sits at four games over the Angels.