Chicago Cubs: Was Jeff Samardzija the correct choice for Opening Day starter?

The Chicago Cubs defeated the Kansas City Royals 6-5 in Cactus League play on Saturday, but that victory could hardly be credited to Jeff Samardzija.

Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija will face the Pirates on Opening Day for the second straight season.

Cubs right-hander Jeff Samardzija will face the Pirates on Opening Day for the second straight season.

Kansas City got four runs off seven hits surrendered by the 29-year-old Cubs righty, who was named the Opening Day starter for the second year in a row for the team on Friday. Kansas City also drew three walks in 3.2 innings pitched off Samardzija. His teammates were able to pick things up and get the North Siders the victory, but if Samardzija is going to be traded this year, his value is going to go down if how he is pitching this Spring Training is any indication of how he’ll do during the regular season. He had a very nice debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks Feb. 27. Since then, in March 5 against the Colorado Rockies, March 10 against the San Francisco Giants and Saturday against the Royals, he has failed to look impressive on the mound.

His numbers this Spring consist of a 6.39 ERA, 1.82 WHIP and opponents are hitting .367 off him. Of course, this is all meaningless come the regular season. It would still be encouraging, however, if Samardzija had another start besides the Feb. 27 one in which he didn’t struggle. 17 games remain on the Spring Training calendar for this team. Certainly Samardzija is going to get more work.

When looking on the positive side, when the Cubs are playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park for the second year in a row on Opening Day, the former Notre Dame wide receiver is taking with him a good track record. I mentioned on my radio show, which was recorded before Samardzija got the nod for March 31 and prior to Saturday’s game, that if it were my choice, I would give Samardzija the ball on Opening Day over Travis Wood due to the fact the former had better numbers in his career at PNC than the latter did, though Wood’s career stats in Pittsburgh are nothing to dismiss, either. If last year is anything to go off of, Samardzija had 9 strikeouts, one walk, and no runs allowed in 8 innings pitched. The Cubs ideally would like an encore to that. If the Samardzija the Cubs have seen this Spring shows up against the Bucs on Opening Day, then maybe it wasn’t the best decision. If however, Samardzija has a repeat performance in him from last year, then there’s a good chance the Cubbies are going to start the season on a high note for the year in a row.

  • Jonny Dollar

    Yes, he is by far the correct choice. He is working on his pitches in spring training and they don’t get the same break down there in Arizona. I would expect a very good year from him.