As many expected, starting pitcher Ryan Dempster exercised his $14 million player option to remain with the Cubs for 2012, as first reported by Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun-Times. The club later confirmed the report, via Twitter.
Dempster, 34, posted a career worst 4.80 ERA across 202 1/3 innings of work. Looking at Dempster's peripherals, he should have posted an ERA almost a run better (3.91 FIP). As to his credit, he struck out 8.5 batters to 3.4 walks per nine innings.
With that being said, the righty should be able to bounce back in 2012 (3.70 xFIP), but nothing is guaranteed with an abysmal defense that will only hurt Dempster like it did in 2010. The Cubs were second to last in DRS (defensive runs saved) with -37, and were a middle-of-the-pack club in UZR (ultimate zone rating) - two of the advanced fielding metrics.
For some reason, I feel like people just brush aside Ryan Dempster. He's getting up there in age, the fastball will bore you to death; however, he's found success since converting to a starting pitcher (again) and been pretty good at starting. The 34-year-old Dempster has thrown 200 innings or more every year since 2008 (when he converted from reliever to starter).