After the Oscars, can you imagine if John Travolta had to call play-by-play for a Jeff Samardzija start? One can only imagine the botched pronunciations that would occur, like shades of Harry Caray on the call. Samardzija was on the hill for the second time in Spring Training for the Chicago Cubs, but it was not exactly an Oscar-winning outing for the right-hander. What also is concerning is the other starting pitchers that were invited to camp are also getting off to slow starts as well. With perhaps one spot to fill within the rotation to at least begin the season, are the starting pitching options thinning out for the Cubs?
Against the Colorado Rockies, Samardzija logged three innings but mildly struggled giving up three runs on a walk and four hits. Thus far in his two outings, the command is not quite there yet for the likely Opening Day starter. If Samardzija can limit his pitch count throughout the year and improve his command, his effectiveness would start to look like ace quality stuff. While Samardzija is in no danger of missing out on the Opening Day roster, a few other arms could be on the outside looking in next month.
Thus far James McDonald, Jonathan Sanchez, and Chris Rusin have really struggled out of the gates. Through the first week of games, the trio has put together 8.1 innings allowing 18 earned runs. With Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta still working their way back from minor injury tweaks, the Cubs either better hope for them to get right soon, or for one of the invitees to right the ship quickly before it is to late.
Another option for Chicago could be to also stretch out Justin Grimm who has starting experience as well. Grimm could become a long-reliever and emergency starter as the season progresses.
Also during the game, there was more production from one of the members of the “core four” for the Cubs. Javier Baez slugged his second home run of the spring as he continues to showcase his power and rising potential. With Starlin Castro out for a few days, Baez is certainly putting on an award-winning performance of his own for the Cubs. Start practicing Travolta.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.