Opening Day Starter Not a Lock After All for Chicago Cubs?

By Nick Schaeflein
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but the Chicago Cubs may be shuffling their plans on just who will be taking the ball on the Opening Day lineup card. It has long been forecast and assumed numerous times that righty Jeff Samardzija would be making the day one start for the second straight year against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but that is not locked in just yet. Could left-hander Travis Wood get the nod to make his first career Opening Day start come Mar. 31?

While Samardzija did make the Opening Day start last season and also made the first Spring Training start for the Cubs this year, no official announcement has been made just yet by manager Rick Renteria on who will be facing the Buccos on day one. Both Samardzija and Wood reached the 200-inning mark last year, but Wood was the Cubs’ All-Star representative. The numbers are also in Wood’s favor as his ERA was more than a run better then Samardzija’s last year. Wood was also ranked in the top-10 in NL batting average against and quality starts.

In his Spring Training debut, Wood was lights out against the Cleveland Indians. He went three scoreless innings giving up just one hit, no walks and adding three strikeouts. Out of the gates, Wood looks primed and confident to continue to build off of his best season as a pro this year. If one start could paint a picture, at this moment Wood has the command dialed in while Samardzija appears to be still searching for his comfort zone in 2014.

At the end of the day, Opening Day is just one start on the schedule. After that, it simply becomes all about taking the ball every fifth day which both Wood and Samardzija will gladly do for Chicago. Both guys are competitors and could develop into a strong duo at the front of the Cubs’ rotation. However, if Opening Day is all about giving the ball to your best pitcher, at this moment it is Wood. Let’s not turn in those lineup cards just yet, fans.

Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.

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