For many players, especially the younger ones and rookies, the final game of the season presents a chance to leave a lasting impression. However, veterans may also be in a position to leave their mark. Such a notion specifically applies to Ryan Dempster, who may be making his last start in a Cubs uniform.
Dempster, who has spent the last eight seasons of his career in Chicago, has a player option for the 2012 season, but has yet to commit beyond Wednesday's start -- possibly due to the flux in the Cubs' front office. Nevertheless, should it be Dempster's last day with the Cubs, he has left his mark on his teammates and the clubhouse.
"'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 added. "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."
Though Dempster will finish with his first sub-.500 season since 2007, and is winless in September, he is in line to eclipse the 200-inning plateau for the fourth consecutive season. Despite enduring rocky times during his tenure on the North Side, Dempster's durability and constant presence in the rotation has provided a sense of stability on the roster.
"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."
Wade LeBlanc will square off against Dempster also looking to end the year on a high note. The left-hander has allowed just three earned runs on eight hits over 13 innings combined in his last two starts. He has struck out 14 and walked three in those outings. While much typically isn't worked on in the closing days of the season, LeBlanc is still committed to making improvements before he hangs it up for the winter.
"It all starts and ends with fastball command," LeBlanc said. "Now, the key is to have one more [start] and finish strong."
Cubs: Marshall's monster summer
Sean Marshall had a productive first half, but the left-hander has been dominant at times over the past two months. Marshall has allowed just four earned runs in his last 25 innings (1.44 ERA), dating back to Aug. 1. He has struck out 27 with six walks, and has allowed two runs (one earned) dating back to Aug. 10. Marshall now possesses the club record for holds in a season with 34, surpassing the previous mark held by Carlos Marmol (30 -'08).
Padres: Hundley's big second half
The Padres have endured a quiet second half, but Nick Hundley has made plenty of noise with his bat. The catcher enters the final day of the season hitting .365 (45-for-123), with five home runs, 11 RBIs and 10 doubles in the second half (36 games). Hundley opened the year by hitting .222, with three home runs and 15 RBIs in his first 45 games.
The Cubs have played in 84 games decided by two runs or fewer this season, and are 36-48 in such contests. Similarly, the Padres have played in 91 games decided by two runs or fewer, posting a 40-51 record.