Shutting Jeff Samardzija down for the remainder of the season is a no-brainer.
His 174.2 innings pitched doubles his innings total from a season ago and accounts for slightly more innings pitched than he accumulated during his first four seasons with the Cubs (169.2).
It’s been a heavy work-load for the 27-year-old, and with the final month of the Cubs’ regular season being spent as nothing more than an evaluation period determining what players should return in 2013, there’s no reason risking injury to a player the Cubs desperately need in its rotation next spring.
Samardzija’s first season as a starter has largely been a success. He leads the team in starts (28), innings pitched (174.2) and strikeouts (180). He’s also accomplished 17 quality starts, including his last four, posted and ERA of less than 3.00 since the All Star break and tossed his first career complete game against Pittsburgh Saturday night–only allowing a further glimpse of how high his potential ceiling could reach as a top-of-the-rotation arm.
The Shark finishes his season with a respectable 3.81 ERA, but a losing (9-13) record, which can hardly be held against him given the Cubs’ anemic offense. And he easily pitched well enough for at least two, if not three more victories, and arguably more. So it is nice knowing Samardzija is capable of winning 15-games or more over a full season.
What’s really of interest, however, is Samardzija’s expiring 1-yr, $2.64M contract, keeping in mind, the Cubs declined Jeff’s major league option last year to resign him to a more team friendly deal.
But oh, how things have changed.
Samardzija is no longer a pitcher trying to prove himself as a starter, and the Cubs have basically zero rotation depth behind him, aside from an unhealthy Matt Garza and an inconsistent Travis Wood.
So how much and how long? That’s the next question Jed Hoyer needs to address in Samardzija’s career. And here we thought ending the Shark’s season early was the hard part.