The Cubs better be careful with Jeff Samardzija.
It doesn’t take long for major league hitters to ruin a young pitcher’s confidence.
At some point, of course, you have to get Jeff’s feet wet as a starter, but as I’ve said all season long, this kid isn’t big league ready yet–as a starter or reliever.
That’s not Samardzija’s fault, either–he’s just 23-years-old. And so what if he needs another year of minor league seasoning under his belt.
The Cubs, however, don’t seem as patient. They’ve continuously bounced Samardzija between Triple-A and the major leagues.
I think it’s a noticeable disservice to the young man, especially rushing the guy to The Show as a reliever when you want him to start?
Reminds me of the Reds’ mistake of jumping the gun on two bright pitching prospects in 2001: Brian Reith and Chris Reitsma.
Both pitchers were 23-year-old right-handers, both were prematurely called to the majors, and both had their confidence shattered by the end of September.
Reith started eight games finishing 0-7 with an arcade like 7.81 ERA. Reitsma managed 29 starts, got hammered as well, and ended the campaign 7-15 with a 5.29 ERA.
The Reds thinking at the time was that each hurler gained boat-loads of experience, and despite the horrific numbers, both would prosper during the following season.
That, obviously, didn’t happen. The early mental scars never fully healed before the start of spring training.
And by the end of 2004, three years later, Reith carried a career 4-12 record and would never again pitch in the major leagues.
In Reitsma’s case, his sophomore season produced a 6-12 record. He then, however, rebounded nicely during the 2003 season, but did so as a reliever and not a starter.
Who knows what happens had the Reds let both pitchers come-of-age as starters in the minor leagues.
Cincinnati appeared to assume that the road to the majors didn’t matter, that haste was better than waste, and that both Reith and Reitsma would become staples in the rotation no matter how hard they got kicked around in their early years.
The Cubs appear to be making the same assumptions with Samardzija, and it’s worse because he’s far more talented a pitcher than either one of the Reds’ failed prospects.
Giving Jeff the chance to start in Zambrano’s absence was a smart move, but this particular outing, and his season as a whole, has been shaky at best.
I’m not saying Samardzija has lost his confidence just yet, but the Cubs better be careful he doesn’t.