CHICAGO -- Throwing just 90 pitches in his last outing and getting extra rest with Thursday’s off day means Jeff Samardzija should be completely recharged when he takes the mound in Philadelphia on Monday night.
The Cubs still don’t know how much mileage they will be able to get from the right-hander in his first season as a starter so efficient 90-pitch outings like Samardzija put together Tuesday can only help.
“I think if we can be efficient like we were and make those 90 pitches go into seven innings, I think yeah there is no problem with that,” Samardzija said. “I don’t think we can put too much into it so far because I think it will be an outing-to-outing thing. How is the outing going? Did I have some hard innings or easy innings? A lot of things will have to be taken into account, I think.”
The idea of being high maintenance makes Samardzija cringe, and he has been quick to jump on any questions that have to do with him being treated any different because he used to be a reliever.
But the issue has come up ever since he went 110 pitches in his season debut, just missing out on a complete game. He got the victory against the Washington Nationals that day, but seemed to labor in his next two outings, both road games, before getting back on track this week against the St. Louis Cardinals.
He is 2-1 after his four starts with a 4.13 ERA and has 25 strikeouts to eight walks. He is geting hit, though, with his opponents' batting average of .277 easily the highest of the five Cubs pitchers that started the season in the rotation.
Also, for his next outing he will go back on the road knowing that he has had issues with pitching away from Wrigley Field.
“Obviously everybody wants to pitch at home,” Samardzija said. “On the road I think I have made some pretty good pitches, it’s just early in the season. I feel really good and sometimes that gets me in a little bit [of trouble]. Sometimes you need to take a deep breath and step off the mound a little bit and really assess the situation. But I love pitching at Wrigley.”
Samardzija has already pitched 24 innings, second on the team to Matt Garza’s 26 2/3, and is on pace for 200 unless some precautions are made at some point.
“You’re going to keep an eye on everything he does, the innings and the pitch counts,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s a max-effort guy for one. He’s doing things he hasn’t done for a few years now, starting and maxing out. And not only that, but maxing out in the big leagues where the intensity is a lot more than it is in the minor leagues. It’s a lot more stress on you.”
Then there are things like a starting pitcher’s tendency to hit a wall at some point during the season in a dead arm period.
“It really is just a thing where I will play it by ear and base it off that,” Samardzija said. “I worked hard this offseason to be in shape and hopefully we can carry it through, but we’re going to ride it to see how it happens. I think that is a big part of this year, ride it until he wheels fall off and see how far we go.”