Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Jeff Samardzija during photo day at HoHoKam Park. Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Let's all calm down just a little, shall we?
And remember it's March 7, and a pitcher's first spring training start.
Sure, Jeff Samardzija looked great in today's 6-4 Cubs win over the Royals. I mean, really great. He was hitting 94+ on the radar gun, and throwing strikes (26 of them, out of 35 total pitches). And the 35 pitches in three innings is a good pitch count, too, likely the reason Dale Sveum let him throw one more inning than any other Cubs starter has gone so far.
Would it be a great story if the Shark, so reviled by so many Cubs fans in his first four years with the team, managed to make it into the starting rotation and succeed? Sure it would. But three good innings in one spring training game doesn't tell us much, other than the fact that he's earned another one.
The other issue is that Samardzija, finally, appeared to "get" being in the bullpen and was getting pretty good at a middle relief/setup role. And the Cubs could use an additional arm in that role -- and if he's good at that, why move him?
Anyway, if you're on the Shark Bandwagon, I'd slow it down a little.
The Cubs scored all the runs they needed in the first inning, helped out by three Royals errors, two of them by third baseman Mike Moustakas, who is going to be an outstanding major league player someday... just not today. They also got RBI hits in that inning from Bryan LaHair, Jae-Hoon Ha and Darwin Barney.
Rafael Dolis also threw two good innings, finishing with a strikeout. Trey McNutt didn't do so well, giving up a run in his inning of work, but he's not really expected to make the team anyway. Dolis, on the other hand, could move into a setup/middle relief role if -- I emphasize if -- Samardzija makes the rotation. Jeff Beliveau, expected to compete for a spot in the bullpen, had his second straight shaky outing, giving up a pair of runs; he could be headed to Iowa if this keeps up.
LaHair, Castro and Reed Johnson all had two hits. The Cubs had 15 hits in all and are currently leading all MLB teams in that category and are hitting .369 as a team. That surely won't last, but it's nice to see them hitting, and preventing other teams from doing that.
It was only 59 degrees at game time in Surprise, while it was 68 degrees in Chicago. It will definitely not be that nice on Opening Day, April 5. Or if it is, that would be one of the nicest Opening Days in recent Cubs history.