Chicago Cubs' Pitching Ace Jeff Samardzija Has Become Elite

By Connor Muldowney

Playing for the Chicago Cubs used to be an honorable thing. It used to be something that people were proud of; an organization that, although didn’t win titles, had a high respectability from around the league.

After a plethora of rotten seasons on the North Side, the Cubs have garnered the title of one of the league’s worst teams. It’s gotten to the point where the Cubs and Houston Astros are taking the brunt of many harsh jokes about terrible teams.

While the front office, led by Theo Epstein, has promised a resurgence in the near future, effectively ending the curse, nothing has been done to turn things around lately. However, there is one guy that has been masterful for the Cubs since becoming a starting pitcher.

Jeff Samardzija has become the ace of the Cubs and one of the best pitchers in baseball. Yes, I said Samardzija — a former college receiver at Notre Dame and a former NFL draftee. Many people thought the 28-year-old was crazy when he chose baseball over football, but look how that has turned out.

Samardzija has been a pleasant surprise in the past few seasons for the Cubs. After struggling mightily coming out of the bullpen in 2009 and 2010 with 7.53 and 8.38 ERAs, respectively, the fifth-year player has come into his own as a starter and ace.

Transitioning from a reliever to an ace is something you rarely hear of, but he has done just that.

With a 2.85 ERA through 11 starts this season, Samardzija is on pace to have his best season as a pro, even after a sparkling season in 2012. His 80 strikeouts rank third in the National League, while his three wins speak to the struggles of the Cubs baffling offense.

Could he be close to undefeated if he played for a contender? He has only allowed 15 earned runs in his six losses and has pitched impressively this season for one of the league’s worst teams.

One thing is for sure, however — Samardzija is elite.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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