The Chicago Cubs announced that right-hander Jeff Samardzija will lead the team out onto the field on Opening Day against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It will be Samardzija’s second straight Opening Day start, and ironically both will have taken place at PNC Park. There may have been some thought in giving the ball to Travis Wood on Day 1, but it will be Samardzija taking the mound instead.
While Samardzija will at least be a member of the Cubs on Opening Day, there still is some uncertainty around Chicago on if he will finish the year on the North side. There has been several trade rumors surrounding the right-hander throughout the offseason, and even some small rumblings during spring camp. One of the big storylines that the Cubs will have in 2014 will be the long-term future of Samardzija. Will the two sides reach a long-term deal, or will there ultimately be a trade completed by Theo Epstein and company?
Last season, Samardzija was a top-10 pitcher in innings pitched and strikeouts among NL starters. He certainly has the ability to become a work-horse starter for any rotation. If Samardzija is able to improve his command, it will lead to better quality starts, and ultimately better success for himself and the Cubs. His mentality is what makes naming Samardzija the proper call for Opening Day.
With Samardzija being tabbed as the Opening Day starter, Wood will likely be the No. 2 man, and Edwin Jackson the No. 3 in the series against the Pirates. The Cubs will also hope that starters Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel will be ready for the start of the season to round out the starting five. For Samardzija, he was stellar on Opening Day a year ago, tossing eight scoreless innings. He will look to repeat that performance and get the Cubs off and running to start the 2014 season.
Nick Schaeflein is a Chicago Cubs writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.