Jeff Samardzija has been outstanding this spring and looks to be a leading candidate to fill one of the Cubs’ two vacancies in the rotation. Reality finally sunk in for Samardzija and the Cubs in his latest outing.
Coming into the Cubs Friday spring spout against the Rockies Samardzija had given up a slim three runs on six hits in 10 innings of work. The Rockies would slam Samardzija for more runs on Friday than he had previously given up all of spring.
From pitch one; it was a rough outing on the mound for the righty.
Colorado’s Chris Nelson was the first to gouge Samardzija by promptly blasting a led off homerun. Three singles later, the bases were full of Rockies with Carlos Gonzalez stepping into the box.
Gonzalez cashed in, clearing the bases by means of a double.
Why is this relevant? The Cubs starting rotation is far from decided and before Friday Samardzija seemed to be a clear front-runner.
Earlier in the day Cubs manager Dale Sveum announced that veteran Ryan Dempster will get the opening day nod. Outside Dempster, Matt Garza and newcomer Paul Maholm are the only other pitchers who have secured a spot in the rotation.
With opening day less than two weeks away, Samardzija alongside Rodrigo Lopez and Chris Volstad remain in competition for the two rotation spots.
Did Samardzija hinder his chances in his most recent start?
The answer seems to be no.
Sveum has made it more than clear that he has been impressed with Samardzija’s work resume. However, with consistency being a worry for Samardzija, who has spent his entire professional career working out of the bullpen, the dismal Friday outing cannot be ignored.
Some believe that Samardzija had an opportunity to seal his spot in the rotation against the Rockies, whether the outing hindered his chances is unclear, but, it should open some eyes as many pitching questions remain unanswered – questions not limited to the starting rotation.
Questions loom in regards to relievers as well – what names will make the bullpen is also undecided as the Cubs close out camp.
Similar to the rotation, Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood are the only pitchers set in the pen.
The Cubs are in search to find another set-up man, something easier said than done as Rafeal Dolis is the only candidate who has been notably impressive this spring.
Sveum needs to observe pitching with a sense of urgency as camp winds down with the pressing need to set the opening day 25-man roster.