Jeff Samardzija and the Stephen Strasburg Plan and Other Bullets

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Jeff Samardzija and the Stephen Strasburg Plan and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

To put into perspective just how hilariously, unambiguously terrible the Astros are: the Cubs’ 2-11 record over their last 13 games is *better* than the Astros’ record over their last 42 games (6-36).

  • Jeff Samardzija is just shy of 140 innings on the year after a seven inning, 100+ pitch performance last night. As a guy who pitched out of the bullpen for the most part over the last couple of years, and as a guy whose arm could be quite important to the Cubs in the near future, you can understand the Cubs wanting to take caution in how Samardzija is managed over the final month and a half of the season. Frankly, I’m not crazy about him throwing back-to-back 100+ pitch outings after he’s already pushing his career high in innings pitch, but I know it’s too early to completely shut Samardzija down. I do, however, think it’s time to start pulling off the gas. And, I’m told that the newly-constructed baseball development department (from the very top) generally has a philosophy that they don’t like young arms to exceed certain innings limits in the course of a season, particularly as they stretch themselves out over the years. You may have noticed a number of the Cubs’ starting pitchers in the minors – particularly those more recently drafted – throwing just a couple innings in their outings. I suspect we’re going to see a similar throttling of Samardzija’s innings/appearances. It probably won’t be a full-on shut down, like the Nationals with Stephen Strasburg, who is in his first full season post-Tommy John surgery, but will instead be a gradual reduction until he’s shut down in the final couple weeks of the year. I’m fully on board.
  • From Samardzija’s perspective, he understands the need to protect his arm, but he also wants to show he can keep it up deep into the season. “It’s my first year starting so I want to show this staff I can pitch late in the year and pitch deep into games late in the year,” Samardzija said, per ESPNChicago. “It’s a big proving year for me so just trying to cover all my bases with showing them I can be the guy that they want me to be …. I think we’ll see toward the end of September where we’re at but I take a lot of pride in finishing strong. I’d really like to take this season and look at it in different parts and see when I struggled there in June and to bounce back was big. It would be nice to bounce back with finishing strong with these last six or seven starts we have.”
  • Dale Sveum used to say that he thought Darwin Barney should be in the running for a Gold Glove this year, but now there’s no more hedging. “Right now there’s no doubt in my mind he should win the Gold Glove,” Sveum said. “I know there are other guys out there that have done good jobs but I’d hate to see anybody that’s done a better job on every facet of the game. It’s hard to think anybody’s better at pop ups down the right field line …. People forget about the way he goes after those. Turning the double play, he’s been unbelievable. It’s not just making errors or not having any errors. It’s the range he’s showed, the ability to have everything in his tool box going to his right, going to his left.”
  • Sveum said the move to recall Michael Bowden from Iowa and bolster the bullpen has a lot to do with the number of appearances by James Russell and Shawn Camp, each of whom are in the top four in the NL in appearances. I don’t disagree with giving each of them a break, but, like, is Bowden really going to get into a game late when the spot otherwise would have gone to Camp or Russell? Heck, even last night, Sveum brought in Russell in the 8th inning of a 6-1 game against the Astros. Seems like that would have been the perfect time to give Russell a night off, eh?
  • Don’t forget to sign up for this week’s one-day fantasy contest (which runs on Friday). It’s free, fun, and you can win cash. All of these are wonderful things.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.