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Cubs Vs. Mets Preview: Cubs Look To Close Out Half With Win

Ryan Dempster's return to the hill will be a welcome sight for Chicago Cubs fans, but the flipside of his return is that it likely begins the countdown to when Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein deal him to a contending team. Dempster, who has a 2.11 ERA and 1.02 WHIP on the season, hasn't started a game since June 15, and his next few starts could end up being a key piece in the Cubs' rebuild.

If Dempster can maintain both his health and his 2012 performance to-date, the Cubs may be able to fetch a top prospect (or something close to it) as the trade deadline approaches. But for now, Dempster will just be trying to help the Cubs win games, and that starts today in Citi Field against a Mets lineup that he can certainly control.

The Mets, meanwhile, will be trotting out lefty Jon Niese, who is 7-3 on the season with a 3.35 ERA.

Game date/time: Sunday, July 8, 12:10 p.m. CT

Location: Citi Field, Flushing, New York

TV: CSN

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