Leading up to the Opening Day of any baseball season, there is a lot of talk of which starter should get the honor of being the first pitcher of each time to begin the year. For the Chicago Cubs, there shouldn’t be any question that former Notre Dame star Jeff Samardzija is the only real choice for the Cubs opening day pitcher. It may be a little bit early to call it for Jeff, as Spring Training is yet to begin, but it seems a clear choice.
Strange as it my sound, Samardzija is the longest-serving Cubs pitcher currently on the team aside from closer Carlos Marmol. Samardzija made his first appearance for the Cubs in 2008, going back and forth between the bullpen and the starting rotation. The majority of the prospective starters for 2013 are first-year Cubs, as longtime starters like Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster are now long gone.
Although experts may project pitchers like Edwin Jackson to turn out to have better years than Samardzija, it seems that such a symbolically important role should be filled by someone who has been with the organization for a while.
Whether or not that will turn out to be the case remains to be seen. Samardzija is the Cubs’ longest-serving starter and was the team’s best last season, with his 3.81 ERA, and 180 strikeouts leading the team among starters. He also finished with a respectable WHIP of 1.22, despite only compiling a 9-13 record on a very bad team.