I’ve been in favor of making Samardzija the No. 5 ever since Jason Marquis was part of the Cubs’ rotation.
However, the last thing I want to see is Samardzija transitioning from the bullpen to the rotation mid-season: think Joba Chamberlain.
There’s simply no need to delay big Sam from the inevitable: the guy is going to be a starting pitcher.
If anything, the right-hander’s large frame (6’5) and power-arm makes him an ideal candidate for the job.
And starting isn’t unfamiliar territory for Samardzija either, he developed through the minors making 54 starts.
Moreover, the kid’s promotion to the big club last July was due in large part to his (4-1) record in six starts with Triple-A Iowa (3.13 ERA).
Add Jeff to the five-hole and it goes a long way in strengthening an already unpredictable rotation.
Ted Lilly is coming off back-to-back seasons of 200+ IP, then there’s Zambrano’s bum shoulder and the enigma that is ‘Hard Knocks’ Harden.
Of course, Chad Gaudin is a likely candidate for the rotation as well – (24-20) in 68 career starts – but I like him better as the pen’s long-man in front of Marmol and Gregg.
Sean Marshall will get a look too, but he’s never impressed me much as a starter and I’d rather prefer his left-handedness during the late innings.
Throw in the off season addition of bullpen arm Luis Vizcaino and it’s another reason Jeff is rotation bound.
Again, the way I see it it’s only a matter of time before Samardzija is a top-of-the-rotation starter, Marquis is long gone, make Samardzija the No. 5.