Jeff Samardzija’s chance to make the Chicago Cubs rotation blew up in smoke Monday, but apparently his chance to make the big team hasn’t quite yet.
Piniella said he would have the starting rotation and many of the bullpen slots figured out “by Thursday or Friday, but if Samrdzija doesn’t win a starting spot, he’ll be seriously considered for a bullpen spot in the middle or shorter role.”
Cubs brass also has talked about sending Samardzija back to Triple-A to work on being a starter, but this is the second time within a week that Piniella has strongly hinted the major league bullpen was more likely. Last season, the Notre Dame grad made 26 appearances, posting a 0.95 ERA at Wrigley Field. Hardball.
Ooh. Seriously considered. Good.
I would love to see Jeff Samardzija make the pen this year, as I think that’s where his future is with the Cubs.
There’s just something about his stuff that is just so much better when he’s able to let it all rip for an inning (ha, that sounds like farts), than when he has to stretch it out over seven innings. I’m not saying he couldn’t continue to develop and learn to be an excellent starter – he still might – but it’s clear that he could be of the most immediate use to the team in the bullpen.
But there’s a rub.
The Cubs are going to need no fewer than seven starters this year. Even if fortune smiles from ear to ear on the Cubs starters and Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly do not miss significant time, Rich Harden and Sean Marshall are not going to make 32 starts apiece this year. Harden because he is fragile (fragile – I think it’s Italian… it’s a major award!), and Marshall because he’s never even approached 200 innings in a professional season.
If Samardzija is permanently ensconced in the pen, who are the backup starters? Sure, maybe he can pull off the swing role, but there’s no experience there. Aaron Heilman is an obvious choice, as well as Chad Gaudin – but Gaudin might not even make the team at this point.
Sure would be nice to have some top starters at AAA Iowa, ready to fill in.