Jeff Samardzija was one of the Chicago Cubs most reliable relief pitchers several years ago, but does he have what it takes be an Opening Day starter?
Samardzija seems to be the top candidate for the Opening Day starter as the Cubs began Spring Training on Monday. The 28-year old pitcher completed his first full season as a starter last year, and pitched over 200 innings for the Cubs when he was shut down on September 8.
While it’s no secret that the Cubs have a less-than-stellar pitching staff, Samardzija has potential to be the new ace of the rotation, as he finished the 2012 season with a 9-13 record and a 3.81 ERA. And who could forget his final start of the season against the Pittsburgh Pirates when he pitched a complete game?
Cubs manager Dale Sveum has high hopes for Samardzija in 2013, mentioning that he “matured as a pitcher” last season with his ability to get to 120 pitches a game.
Calm down, Cubs fans. Samardzija doesn’t have the job just yet; new pitching addition Edwin Jackson could prove to be competition for Samardzija, coming off the 2012 season with a 10-11 record and 4.03 ERA with the Washington Nationals. Jackson has pitched for several different teams, was voted an All-Star in 2009, and threw his first no-hitter in 2010.
For the first time in quite awhile, the Cubs may actually have a competitive pitching staff. Who will be on the mound for the Cubs on Opening Day? Samardzija? Jackson? Someone else?
The answer will have to wait until April 1 when the Cubs open the 2013 season in Pittsburgh.