Clock ticking on Samardzija's season

All signs point to the Chicago Cubs shutting down Jeff Samardzija sometime in mid-September.

The 27-year-old starter is now in uncharted waters, having thrown almost 160 innings for the first time in his professional baseball career. The Cubs have been very happy with the right-hander’s development and are hoping he becomes the lynchpin of their future rotation.

Samardzija had previously thrown over 100 innings just twice as a starting pitcher. He signed a $10 million contract after being drafted in the 12th round of the 2006 draft.

“I saw him as a young starter in the minor leagues,” Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio said. “He was one of those guys that you look at as an opponent and say, as a coach I would really like to have a prospect like that to work with. Now, three years later, he is one of my prize pupils.”

Samardzija had another solid outing in Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, taking a loss after giving up just two earned runs in seven innings pitched. He struck out 10.

“It is what it is,” Samardzija said about the lack of run support. “You show up every day as a professional and do your job. I go out and give everything I have every day to win a ballgame. That is not going to change.

We just have to do the little things right, that’s all there is to it,” said Samardzija, who threw a wild pitch and made a throwing error that led to the Brewers’ two seventh-inning runs. “That’s including myself.”

A hard date has not been set on when the organization will pull the plug on Samardzija. A good guess would be the middle of September, or at 175 innings.

“I think from the organization’s perspective it is a case-by-case thing,” Bosio said. “With a young staff we are very pitch-count cautious as well as side throwing and the times we get our relievers up. We monitor everything to ensure the health of these guys for now and the future.”

Mutual admiration has bonded Samardzija’s relationship with Bosio and manager Dale Sveum.

“I know he trusts us,” Bosio said. “We have a good open line of communication and together with Jeff have constantly tried new things all season. I think he is developing into one of the bright stars -- not only for the Cubs but in all of baseball.”

Samardzija leads the Cubs starters in wins (8 ), innings (158 2/3) and strikeouts (163).