CHICAGO – Jeff Samardzija says you can add yet another reason for the Cubs’ resurrection into the winningest team in baseball since June 25.
The first-year starter credits the left-right combination from the starting rotation for keeping opposing offenses off balance game after game. Since June 25, the Cubs have gone 12-4.
Since Travis Wood was called up to face the Houston Astros on May 22, the Cubs' rotation has consisted of two left-handers (Wood and Paul Maholm) and three right-handers (Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Samardzija).
“When Paulie and Woody are throwing the way they’re throwing it makes our job easier as righties to come in and have a totally different look than what they showed,” Samardzija said. “Everybody is throwing well. We’re kind of riding each other right now. Nobody wants to be that guy that lets off the gas and lets a team get up on us. We’re having fun and having good competition between each other for sure.”
Of course, not any right-left combination will do, it also has to be an effective one and the Cubs’ rotation has been rolling of late. And it’s only getting better. Over the last five games, the Cubs starters have a 1.13 ERA. They also entered Tuesday’s game on a 19-inning scoreless streak.
The bad news is that some of those effective pieces aren’t expected to be around for long.
Dempster and Garza are in daily trade rumors, with Dempster possibly headed to a new team by the end of the week. It’s obviously not the favorite subject of the clubhouse, but it certainly isn’t a surprise.
“I think we have been preparing for that for a long time,” Samardzija said. “There was talk in spring training about Garza getting traded. Things like that, they are part of the game and we’re just going to show up and see who is on the lineup card every day and go from there.
“We have a lot of professionals here that love to play the game and love being here playing for the Cubs. I think if you talk to a majority of the people, they want to stick around. That’s obviously out of our control though.”
What is in his control is pitching well and continuing to learn what he can as a starter. Samardzija, who will face the Marlins on Wednesday, has reached the 100-inning mark, showing both a good side and a bad side while going 6-8 with a 4.71 ERA.
Those guys who post 200 innings year after year have earned even more of his respect now that he is a starter. The right-hander isn’t expected to reach that total this season. When he takes the mound Wednesday he will have gone 11 days between starts.
After the All-Star break he was moved to the back of the rotation because manager Dale Sveum wanted his first-time starter to get an extended break.
What the Cubs don’t plan on doing is to have a hard and fast pitch or innings limit on Samardzija this season, preferring to take things start by start.
“I’m trying to get used to it just because any season there will be times when you throw on short rest or long rest,” Samardzija said. “I’m trying to see how I feel when I get an extra day, trying to see how I feel when I get regular rest and just making adjustments as the season goes on. I threw out of the bullpen last year so throwing random times isn’t too crazy.”