Jeff Samardzija locked up the 3rd spot in the Cubs starting rotation with his 6 scoreless innings against the Cleveland Indians in the Cubs 2-0 win on Wednesday. He scattered 3 hits and just 1 walk while striking out 5. He has had good outings this spring, but that was by far his best performance to date. The pressure was on, as Samardzija knew he had to bounce back from his last outing when the Rockies rocked the big righty for 7 ER. He answered the call and it looks like all the hard work that he put in this off-season – he showed up in Arizona back in November – really paid off.
Manager Dale Sveum had this to say about picking Samardzija – “I’s say it convinced me more than anything. He did a good job yesterday, especially because they had seven or eight left-handers in their lineup, which is always a test against a right-handed pitcher. He kept them off-balance, got weak popups. That shows he was controlling bat speed and doing a good job of it.”
Samardzija was thrilled and relieved: “We just kind of said thanks to each other, for me personally to get the opportunity to do it and they were happy I didn’t take it for granted and just show up and go through the motions. It felt good… You don’t know how many opportunities you’re going to get to start. I really wanted to give this a full head of steam and have a full shot.”
This is a great move. I like the idea of 2 veterans at the front of the rotation – Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. Then you can throw Samardzija out there against other teams’ # 3′s and he is going to surprise a lot of people. Then you have a Chris Volstad who has had a good spring and may have favorable match-ups against some weaker starters. And then you might see Paul Maholm really take advantage of being in the #5 spot in the rotation. That will give him a little extra time with an extended spring to get up to full game strength, and he has been around the block once or twice. This rotation is going to surprise some people – you heard it hear 1st!
The Cubs also optioned Randy Wells back down to Triple-A Iowa…