CHICAGO -- Jeff Samardzija will open the second half at the back end of the Chicago Cubs' rotation, a move that comes as no surprise for the first-time starter.
Samardzija will open his second half Wednesday against the Miami Marlins, pitching a day after Travis Wood. Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza will pitch in the current series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, in that order.
With 85 games played at the time of the All-Star break, the season was a shade over halfway complete. Samardzija had racked up 101 1/3 innings already. The most he has thrown in a major league season was 88 last year.
“You’re going to try to keep the innings down a little bit and the pitch counts and all that,” manager Dale Sveum said of his second-half rotation. “Not so much Travis, but Samardzija’s in uncharted waters now so you try to eliminate that as much as you can.”
The Cubs knew that Samardzija wouldn’t proceed without some struggles as he tries to start in a full season for the first time in his career. That happened in June when he went 0-4 in five starts with a 10.41 ERA.
It’s how Samardzija rebounded from those poor outings that has impressed the Cubs. He is showing the resiliency they thought he had when they dared to even think he could be a starter.
“I think the last two starts (were better), but that’s what we talk about, the learning process of starting pitching and understanding to be yourself and not be anybody else, not trying to create stuff,” Sveum said. “And he needs that (split-finger pitch) to dominate. In his dominating starts he always has his split finger, but I think he got a little out of whack with his mechanics, and to be able to slow things down later in the games especially to realize that the mechanics will start breaking down later in the game.”
Over two July starts, Samardzija posted a 2.57 ERA. Against the Atlanta Braves on July 2, he gave up one run over seven innings.
“It’s just a learning process when you have to go out there six, seven, hopefully eight, nine innings,” Sveum said. “It’s a learning process through the third and fourth time through a lineup sometimes.”