PHILADELPHIA -- Thursday’s off-day gave the Chicago Cubs the chance to reset the rotation ever so slightly and they will take advantage of it.
Jeff Samardzija, who is in his first season as a starter, will be moved out of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies and will make his next outing Tuesday when the Cubs open a three-game series at Cincinnati against the Reds.
Chris Volstad, who last pitched on Wednesday, will stay on a five-day schedule and assume Samardzija’s spot Monday against the Phillies.
Samardzija’s pitch count has mounted quickly since opening the season with 110 in a victory over the Washington Nationals. He was held to a more reasonable 90 pitches in his last outing.
By moving him back a day, Samardzija will now wait a full week between starts, just one more way they are trying to preserve him as he adapts to his new routine as a starter.
“Any time we can use that to our advantage and see if we can monitor the pitch counts and innings, it’s just going to benefit him in the long run,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Samardzija arrived in Arizona back in November to begin a stringent fitness program, and while it helped to be at full stride once the season started, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the ambitious schedule could take its toll physically in the second half. Samardzija, though, would dispute that concept.
“It was designed to be ready for spring training and compete for a job but it was also to work so you can carry through a long season,” Samardzija said. “Your workouts during the season are to sustain your strength. You’re not really building and getting stronger. It’s a log season. You want to stay flexibile and strong but you just have to find the right mix.”
Part of that mix apparently is to get Samardzija some extended rest between starts every once in a while, whether he thinks he needs it or not.
The move seems to have little to do with a preference of having Volstad pitch against the Phillies rather than the Reds.
Volstad has 12 career starts against the Phillies, much more than his four against the Reds, so lineup familiarity could be a reason. But he has a 5.88 ERA in his career against Philadelphia, compared to a 5.32 mark against the Reds.