Today the Chicago Cubs did what I’ve said they would be doing soon: they shut down Jeff Samardzija. He’ll pitch tomorrow and then call it a (very successful) season with a hair over 170 innings, which blows away his 88 from last year. It’s the right move for both Samardzija and the Cubs, and I applaud it. There was nothing to be gained by keeping him out there when he’s so far and away above the number of innings he’s every thrown professionally before. His season will merit quite a bit of analysis in the coming weeks, but it’s safe to say that we all hope he stays strong in the offseason, and comes back just as effective (if not more so) next year.
As for the guy taking Samardzija’s place in the rotation, well, it’s a new guy: Jason Berken, whom the Cubs just picked up off of waivers from the O’s. Berken, a 28-year-old righty, got a protracted shot to crack the Orioles’ rotation back in 2009 and put up a 6.54 ERA over 24 starts (5.31 FIP). From there he moved to the bullpen where he was great in 2010, and terrible in 2011. He’s spent almost all of this year starting at AAA, with an adequate 3.50 ERA, 1.382 WHIP, and a 2.51 K/BB in 144 innings. He’s not going to knock your socks off, but he’s got as good a shot at locking down a fifth starter’s job as does someone like Justin Germano.
The Cubs will see what he’s got, and decide if he’s worth keeping on the roster into 2013. It’s yet another low upside, but no meaningful risk, move.
The roster spot (both 25-man and 40-man) is coming from Blake Parker going back on the DL with elbow problems (recall, he’s the one who suffered a “stress reaction” in his elbow before Matt Garza did … ). His DL stint is another of the 60-day variety, which is a significant bummer for him.