Today the Cubs head out to Salt River Field to take on the Rockies. Jeff Samardzija gets the start, and he’s now got the look of the Cubs’ number three starter (based both on following Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza this week, and also on Dale Sveum’s recent comment that Paul Maholm would be serving as the fifth starter).

The game is at 3:10 CT and audio will be available on

The lineup is very interesting at the top, especially who’s slotting into the two-hole:

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Ian Stewart, 3B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Bryan LaHair, 1B

5. Geovany Soto, C

6. Marlon Byrd, CF

7. Reed Johnson, LF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • PeteG

    I have a bad feeling Shark will let us down today. I hope he doesn’t but I envision him giving up 6 earned.

    • Bric

      Well, he’s already given up 5, in the second inning. One thing that we fans have over every coach the Cubs have had in the last 40 years is we’ve seen more games than them. They come and go but we keep watching.

      The reason I say this is why do they always try to re-invent the wheel. Leave shark in the friggin bull pen where he’s at least average and give the last two spots to Wells and Volstad. We’ve been down this road before (even though Sveum hasn’t). Shark is only good for one or two innings tops. Seriously, I think any number of the Bleacher nation could do a better job of evaluating where the veterans play and when simply based on watching the season games.

      • drew

        90% of commentors here have fully advocatedshark starting all spring, me included. If we cant overreact about his last 3 great starts,then we cant all jump ship after one bad one. (After all, its just glorified practice!)

        Personally, im gonna give the new FO the benefit of the doubt. Most of us have seen more cub games than they have, but that about where our evaluation advantage ends.

        • Bric

          I understand and agree with you kind of. I’ve never been on the Shark wagon. I thought his drafting and subsequent signing was a Jim Hendry special- popular name with a huge signing bonus to make headlines and sell tickets regardless of results. But 100% of the coaches have something I don’t- professional baseball experience so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It won’t matter much anyway because the result will be the same either way. He will probably struggle as a starter but it won’t be any worse than Lopez would. The sad reality is this team isn’t very good regardless of where they put somebody. And I will gladly come back here and admit I’m wrong if Samardjia has at least 6 wins by July.

          • BT

            Shark was signed because the Cubs didn’t have a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th round pick that year, he was considered a low first round talent, but would cost money to pry away from football. So rather than take a 5th round talent and pay him 5th round money, they took a gamble. He hasn’t been worth the money. He has been worth a fifth round pick.

            • AB

              How many draft picks were the Bob howry and Jacque Jones signings worth???

              @#$ I hate the Cubs draft strategy. From the sounds of it, it actually took Ricketts himself in the draft room last year to start pulling the trigger on BAP picks.

            • hansman1982

              So he was 1st round talent but you are upset that they took him in the 5th and paid him as a 1st round talent?

  • hardtop

    that looks pretty close to your chicago cubs starting lineup right there… give or take a soriano
    *not necessarily order, but position players.

    • SirCub

      I kind of like the order too… Maybe a little more LRLR would be nice, but at least Barney is where he should be!

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    Im still very uncertain as to how deep into ball games the shark will be able to go. I like that his control has improved, and that hes throwing his sinker for strikes, but without a decent off speed pitch how long is going to be able to fool major league hitters? bretts sample size analogy is great and can be further expanded on when you talk about starting pitchers… these guys are not going deep into games, and holding hitters coming through the line up multiple times. i have no doubts that he has the stamina to throw hard for 6-8 innings and if his bread and butter pitches are really working for him he’ll be effective. but without that complimentry off-speed pitch i just dont see him sticking in the rotation or really even resembeling the picher that we have seen in “sample sizes” over the spring. i really hope im wrong, im pulling for the guy big time!

    • baseballet

      I’m curious about this too Loyal. Can anyone summarize what pitches Shark throws and rate their effectiveness? Also, does he have quality offspeed pitches in his arsenal? Lastly, is he throwing differently in spring than he was throwing last year?

      • Smitty

        I hear what you guys are saying, but you have to trust that the staff is thinking all of this as well and is expressing these concerns to shark. Hopefully the staff will be “managing” his pitch selection along with Soto to start the year to “educate” him on the proper pitch orders.

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        shark does not throw a consistantly effective change up or breaking ball. hes been throwing a damn good sinker and moving his fast ball around the zone well to survive. however hes not the type of control pitcher that can live on a mid 90s fastball moved around the zone. without developing an effective off speed pich hes really only a once through the line up guy. but as ive seen he is as good as anyone for 3 innings. but the big question is how the coaching staff feel about this and how he fits into the starting rotation without the proper tools. i love his can do attitude and the way he has piched durring the spring is a product of hard work in the off season. perhaps the coaching staff think that his stuff is good enough right now to give them 6 innings but im suspect at best. i see the shark returning to the pen by mid season with a positive attitude for being given the oppertunity to start. A LIGHTS OUT RELIEVER and possible closer?

  • Christian

    I would say that should be the line up but with Soriano in the #5 spot with Soto, Byrd and Barney following him.

  • Dave

    He has been given a spot in the rotation so I would imagine the Cubs think he can get thru a lineup several times.

  • Richard Nose

    I love this lineup…top 3 anyway. I’ve wanted to see this for awhile. Of course get Big Meetch Soriano back in the middle though.

  • djriz

    With our lack of power, I’d rather see Byrd @ 2 and let Stewart hit cleanup to take a little pressure off of LaHair. Byrd is going to have a better OBP that Stewart…probably.

  • Joshua Edwards

    I think they just want to give Stewart more ABs in good situations. The Cubs have plenty of candidates for the #2 spot and he would be better lower in the order.

  • elephanthole

    I gotta admit that I labeled Shark a bust but now I’m excited about him starting. Didn’t think the lightbulb would ever turn on.

  • hardtop

    Yeah, but dont get too high on shark. I know its only spring but we’re winding down and he’s given up 6 hits in 1 1/3… and its not even the rockies best lineup. im not worried (but im a little worried)

  • brittney

    Looks like a line-up we will see on a regular basis. But I am not sure what to think of stewarts place in the order. Good to see soto hit a HR early in the game.

    Anybody got an opinion on the back up catcher?

  • Kyle

    The ball really found our defensive weaknesses that inning. Hard hit balls, but LaHair at first and Johnson in left both could have gotten Samardzija out of that inning if they were better defenders.

    • hardtop

      or at least limited it to a 2 run inning… but still, ouch.

    • TWC

      The Colorado broadcasters referred to Reed Johnson as a good defender.

      • Kyle

        Reputations are hard to shake.

        A guy makes a few highlight reel catches (on balls that a good defender could jog to) and it sticks.

        • TWC

          Yup.  I just thought it was kinda funny.

        • hansman1982

          *cough* Sam Fuld *cough*

  • mark

    What did Hoyer say about pitching? These things have a way of working their way out? Samardzija may have to reconcile himself to being an outstanding relief pitcher. No walks in 3 innings so far. I like that in the late innings.

    Volstad and Wells have remarkably similar statistical profiles for their careers, but is Volstad about to fulfill his potential and has Wells plateaud? Where does Lopez fit in best? He’s had an outstanding spring. He pitched pretty well for a pretty bad team last year. Did everything asked of him. Good guy to have around.

    Colvin’s having a pretty good spring, but he strikes out almost as much as Jackson. Doesn’t get as many walks, though.

    That Garza trade is looking OK. Guyer is doing nothing. Archer has pitched 3 innings this spring. Lee is at least a year away.

    • hansman1982

      So you would rather have 3 innings of good pitching every 5 days rather than 6-7?

    • Joepoe123

      An there theres the all-star sam fold lol jk’s!

  • mark

    Samardzija has yet to prove he’s a starter. These are meaningless games, right? I keep hearing that. But if these games are what we’re going on, he still has something to prove, and the other guys have less to prove, since they have track records as starters. I like his attitude. He has proven that he can be highly effective out of the pen–as effective as anyone they’ve got there now with any experience. If he comes back in his next start, I may change my tune.

  • Cheryl

    But in the last few games (including today) LaHair has started hitting. I wouldn’t have put Starlin at number three. I would have put Ian there. But otherwise a pretty good lineup.

  • mark

    Campana hasn’t been cut yet, has he? Are things still unsettled in the OF?

    Cashner’s having a good Spring.

  • die hard

    Afraid reality is starting to set in…if this is the starting 8, then expectations should be tempered…say, 50-60 wins max?….wait til next year already..oh well…its still baseball and opening day within sight……Go Cubs!!!!!