Is the pressure getting to Jeff Samardzija?
Does he want out of Chicago so badly that he’s starting to have bad outings on the mound?
The conventional wisdom is a pitcher like Samardzija won’t get many suitors. Samardzija is no ordinary pitcher, and most of MLB realizes it.
Sure, he has dropped five of six decisions, including Sunday’s 9-0 laugher to the Brewers. He was tattooed early, lit up like the Chicago skyline at Christmas and left to take an early shower. His earned run average went from 1.68 to 2.54 following Sunday’s game.
This is why baseball is scouting Samardzija. His record may be 1-5, but everything else points to a pitcher that needs to get the heck out of Chicago and on a contending team in a big hurry.
The Cubs are crying poverty. They are trying to sell a Wrigley Field renovation project that doesn’t remodel the field so much as it wrecks all that is special about the park. Meanwhile, as owner Tom Ricketts tries to sell a skeptical public on the renovation, the team on the field looks terrible.
Now you know why Samardzija gets no support. You can’t play Rodney Dangerfield and say he gets no respect, because Samardzija does. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is quite respectable. So is his ERA. About the only thing missing from Samardzija’s season is a record above .500.
Which brings us back to Sunday. The first thing Samardzija should have been asked by the media is whether or not the ongoing trade rumors and the desire to get out of Chicago are wearing on the pitcher.
His response to the media would likely be no. Left unsaid would be “You’re damn right, but I’m not going to tell you guys that.”
Samardzija is a pitcher that other teams would love to have in their pennant races. The Baltimore Orioles are already looking at the standout. The Toronto Blue Jays claim little interest, but deep down that team would love to have another ace to complement Mark Buehrle.
The endless losing, the lack of run support and the lack of visibility in one of the nation’s biggest media markets are getting to Samardzija whether he says it or not.
It is that losing that will soon turn to winning.
Soon Samardzija will be on a contender. His days at Wrigley will be a memory.
Part of him will miss the Cubs. The other part of him will scream hallelujah.
After Sunday it is clear Samardzija is distracted by something. It will soon be gone, and the Cubs will be left to wonder how much more can go wrong.