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MLB Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija Ready to Take Flight in 2013

Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija Ready to Take Flight in 2013

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija will enter the 2013 Major League Baseball season as the ace of the rotation. Even though this is a huge responsibility, the Cubs could not think of anyone better to handle the role.

Samardzija is coming off of a decent performance last season in which he was a starter for the first time in his five-year career. The right-hander went 9-13 with a 3.81 earned run average, 180 strikeouts and 174 2/3 innings in 28 starts.

The 28-year-old’s season ended early because Chicago was nervous about his season pitch count considering the most innings he ever appeared in was 88 in a single season. The last thing they wanted was to wear out one of the top pitchers in the organization before his career ever took off. With that being said, the Cubs are confident that Samardzija will be able to handle anything that is thrown at him this season, which means there will be no restrictions on innings.

Samardzija felt it was important to go out with a bang on Sept. 8, his last outing of the 2012 regular season. He struck out nine batters and allowed only two earned runs on four hits in a complete game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This performance, along with what he accomplished this spring, was the reason manager Dale Sveum felt comfortable giving Samardzija the leadership role in 2013.

“He’s a guy who players rally around because of his work ethic, his bulldog mentality when he’s on the mound,” Sveum told Cubs.com.

Samardzija is loaded with talent, as he is clearly the man to take Chicago to new heights. He understands the responsibility of being the ace on the team, which means fans should expect his best effort every time he steps foot on the mound.

Whether Samardzija can transition his dominant performance in the second half of last season to this year is unknown. However, the Cubs believe the National League Central, as well as the rest of baseball, should be prepared to face a starting pitcher who is taking his game to the next level.

Michael Terrill is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelTerrill, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.