One of the more popular players in the Cubs' clubhouse, it could be Dempster's last start with the team. He has a $14 million player option for 2012, and it may be that he waits to see who the next general manager is before deciding whether to return.
"'Demp' is 'Demp,'" Cubs catcher Koyie Hill said of the right-hander. "He shows up every day. He'll do anything to win the game. He's a good teammate.
"He's influential in the clubhouse," Hill said. "It's good to have a guy like that on the team. You have guys go to him -- young guys, old guys. He connects with everybody -- from the clubhouse staff to people walking on the concourse. He's a good guy for others to [model] themselves after."
There's no way Dempster can finish with a winning record -- he's 10-13 heading into the game -- but he can end on a positive note. Dempster is 0-for-September so far, and has not won since Aug. 11. He hasn't let his personal struggles affect him.
"Even when he doesn't have a game that he likes, it's another opportunity to learn," Hill said. "You never hear an excuse from him. On days he doesn't have his good stuff, you don't know about it until after the game. He's just a solid guy for the team. If he chooses to do something else, he'll be missed in the clubhouse."
Dempster, who was the Cubs' Opening Day starter, enters Wednesday's game with 196 2/3 innings pitched, and is vying for his fourth season with at least 200.
"You don't understand how hard it is to do that," Hill said. "You have to endure a lot. You see him every fifth day, but that's tough. They beat their bodies up pretty good. Guys who have a great work ethic, it really pays off -- and their stuff doesn't fall short in the sixth."