Yesterday’s win over the Cardinals was so much fun that the Cubs just had to go and ruin it. Paul Sullivan reports that Jeff Samardzija is expected to get a few starts for the Cubs in September.
“When he comes up, he’ll get a couple starts,” general manager Jim Hendry said. “He’s close to being … prepared to come up and succeed. He needed better command of his fastball, and he also needed to soften his other game a little bit.
“Maybe there were times when he was throwing the splitter and trying slider too hard, so all of a sudden, everything was hard, hard, hard. He’s learned to soften his game up, his command is better and he’s 9-2 and had very few bad days.”
On one hand, Samardzija is having what appears to be a decent season in AAA. The Cubs finally stopped jerking him around, let him settle into a role, and he has responded by pitching well. He’s a talent that the team invested a lot of money and hope in, so it makes sense that they are willing to give him another second chance.
On the other hand, I feel like we’ve heard a lot of this before. Reports say that Samardzija has added a new “second pitch”, this time a cutter. If that sounds familiar, it should. By my unofficial, and sure to be slightly exaggerated count, this is Samardzija’s fourth “second pitch”. First was the split-finger fastball, which he couldn’t keep out of the middle of the plate. Then there was a slider that didn’t slide, finally his curveball, which he supposedly developed last winter in Mexico. None of those pitches worked well enough to keep him in the majors, so excuse me if I don’t quite buy into this cutter yet.
Given the number of Cubs’ pitchers who could get starts the rest of the season, I don’t see how Samardzija fits in. Barring injury (or made up injury) I don’t see Dempster, Zambrano, Gorzelanny, or Wells being removed from the rotation. That leaves one open spot, with a number of pitchers that could get looks. Odds are the Thomas Diamond show is almost over, Casey Coleman could take his start next time through the rotation. Jay Jackson sits in Iowa, and he probably deserves to get a few spot starts over Samardzija as well.
The Cubs’ love affair with Samardzija continues though, and even though he’s shown multiple times that he isn’t a very good pitcher in the major leagues, he will get as many chances as it takes for him to finally find some semblance of success. Those chances will come at the expense of other, in at least one case potentially better, pitchers that have never had a chance at pitching in the big leagues.
I have seen all I need to see from Jeff Samardzija this season, when rosters expand I’d much rather see what Jay Jackson can do against MLB hitters. I’d rather see what Casey Coleman can do, or even Andrew Cashner (though I’ve given up any hope of seeing him start this season, he won’t even have time to stretch out his arm at this point). Instead, we will all be treated to a month of Samardzija attempting to prove he isn’t what we all know he is, a bad major league pitcher.