Chicago Cubs’ Ryan Dempster: 2008
Another average starter throughout his career, Ryan Dempster put together a surprisingly strong 2008 campaign, leading him to be a part of this illustrious list. Dempster is a dark horse, no doubt. However, the season he put together turned out to be the best of his long career.
Throughout the 16 years, Dempster took the mound, he only earned an All-Star nod twice, once in 2000 and the other time in 2008. He finished the year 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA. Dempster set a career high in not only wins and ERA, but also ERA+ and FIP. It would be the only time Dempster would post an ERA+ over 150.
By the time Dempster arrived in Chicago, he had racked up some stops along the way, however never honestly found his footing until he joined the Cubs. Across his nine-year Cubs career, Dempster finished 67-66 with a 3.74 ERA. Never did he post an ERA under four with any of his other teams.
In his 33 starts Dempster made in 2008 two particular starts stand above the rest: his start on May 15 versus the San Diego Padres and June 11 versus the Atlanta Braves. The May 15 start saw Dempster pitch into the ninth inning, finishing with 8 1/3 innings of shutout baseball with a whopping 12 strikeouts.
In the June 11 game versus Atlanta, Dempster finished the complete game, allowing only two runs and recording 11 strikeouts. The eight-game stretch to include another scoreless eight-inning start, Dempster posted a 2.52 ERA, allowing opposing batters to hit .232 and allowing only six home runs.
By the end of the season, Dempster had posted 24 Quality Starts for the Cubs. The postseason, sadly, would be less forgiving to Dempster. He would make a single start, in Game 1 of the NLDS versus the Los Angeles Dodgers, pitching 4 2/3 innings, while allowing 4 ER, and a painful seven walks. Despite the lackadaisical finish to his season, it does not overshadow how impressive he indeed was for the city of Chicago, and that is why he finds himself on this list.